Indian River

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Power wholesaler NRG Energy, which owns over 22,000 MW of power-generating plants nationally, planned to add a 630 MW IGCC unit to its four-unit (720 MW total) coal-fired Indian River Power Station. The power would have been sold to retailer Delmarva Power. In May, 2007, the Delaware Public Service Commission and three other state agencies ordered Delmarva to negotiate with Bluewater Wind for a power purchase agreement for an offshore wind project. That order foreclosed the Indian River IGCC project. Green Delaware and Citizens for Clean Power had opposed the expansion of Indian River.[1]

Indian River currently operates four coal-fired units. Under a consent decree reached with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Enviromental Control in 2007, NRG agreed to shut down its two oldest units in 2010 and 2011, and to install air pollution controls on Units 3 and 4 by the end of 2011 to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and mercury. The approved plan requires that the power plant’s oldest units, Unit 1 and Unit 2, be shut down by May 1, 2011 and May 1, 2010, respectively, and calls for construction of back-end pollution control equipment on Unit 3 and Unit 4 by Dec. 31, 2011 as allowed under the permits. Pollution control equipment to be constructed includes an ammonia storage system, lime silos and baghouses, byproduct storage silo with a baghouse, selective catalytic reduction systems, and circulating dry scrubber systems with baghouse.

Under a proposal announced Feb. 3, 2010, Unit 3 would operate through 2013 at which time it will be shut down permanently, rather than undergo installation of pollution controls and continue to operate for decades. The facility would continue plans to shut down Units 1 and 2 by 2011 and place controls on Unit 4, its largest, by the end of 2011. The project will cost approximately $360 million and create up to 350 construction jobs over two years. No permanent jobs are expected to be lost as a result of the shutdown due to attrition, retraining, and redeployment. [2]

Project Details

Sponsor: NRG
Size: 630 MW
Type: IGCC
Status: Cancelled


Citizen Groups

Higher cancer rates near Indian River plant

In January 2011, it was reported that the Delaware Division of Public Health did a study examining the number of cancer cases in a six ZIP code area around the plant. The areas examined were Dagsboro, Frankford, Georgetown, Millsboro, Ocean View and Selbyville. The Division study showed an incidence of 553.9 cancer cases per 100,000 residents of the area between 2000 and 2004, compared with the Delaware state rate of 501.3, and the U.S. rate of 473.6 cancer cases per 100,000 residents, making the rate of cancer cases in the area 17 percent higher than the national average, and suggesting a possible correlation to the plant.[3]

Drinking water contaminated with toxic hexavalent chromium found at site

A report released by EarthJustice and the Sierra Club in early February 2011 stated that there are many health threats associated with a toxic cancer-causing chemical found in coal ash waste called hexavalent chromium. The report specifically cited 29 sites in 17 states where the contamination was found. The information was gathered from existing EPA data on coal ash and included locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virgina and Wisconsin. In Delaware the Indian River Power Station in Millsboro where chromium was reported to be leaking from an unlined landfill.[4]

According to EPA data, the Indian River coal ash site is an unlined landfill that is closed. Hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) was reported at the site above 211 ppb (parts per billion) - 10,500 times the proposed California drinking water goals and 2.11 times above the federal drinking water standard.[4]

As a press release about the report read:

Hexavalent chromium first made headlines after Erin Brockovich sued Pacific Gas & Electric because of poisoned drinking water from hexavalent chromium. Now new information indicates that the chemical has readily leaked from coal ash sites across the U.S. This is likely the tip of the iceberg because most coal ash dump sites are not adequately monitored.[5]



  1. "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club, accessed December 2007. (This is a Sierra Club list of new coal plant proposals).
  3. Victor Furman, "Cancer Cluster Linked to Coal?" Press Connects, January 2, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash" Earthjustice & Sierra Club, February 1, 2011.
  5. "Coal ash waste tied to cancer-causing chemicals in water supplies" Alicia Bayer,, February 1, 2011.

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