Environment

Ocean State Power Plant cited 33 times, mostly for emissions violations – activists want it gone

“Ocean State Power emits the same toxins like nitrogen oxide, formaldehyde, and climate change causing emissions that the Clear River project would have emitted, they both run on the same type of fuel,” said Martley in a statement. “If you were concerned about the Clear River Energy Center, you should be concerned about Ocean State Power.”
Photo for Ocean State Power Plant cited 33 times, mostly for emissions violations – activists want it gone

Published on January 3, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist

Kathy Martley, a long time leader of the community group Burrillville BASE, spoke before the Burrillville Town Council in December to report the results of an investigation into the Ocean State Power Plant, located in Burrillville, Rhode Island. After examining records kept by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), Burrillville BASE and The FANG Collective found that the Ocean State Power Plant was cited 33 times from 2017 to 2021, mostly for excess emissions of nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide, and for not having working equipment to detect these excesses.

For four years residents of Burrillville fought the building of Invenergy‘s $1b fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant. Ultimately, residents of the town were successful in defeating the new power plant. But Martley has concerns about the Ocean State Power, which burns fracked-gas and diesel fuel. It was constructed in 1990 amid widespread local opposition. It’s now one of the older power plants in the state.

“Ocean State Power emits the same toxins like nitrogen oxide, formaldehyde, and climate change causing emissions that the [Invenergy] project would have emitted, they both run on the same type of fuel,” said Martley in a statement. “If you were concerned about [Invenergy’s proposed power plant] you should be concerned about Ocean State Power.”

Ariel view of the Ocean State Power Plant (c)Burrillville BASE

In her presentation to the Burrillville Town Council, Martley noted the negative health and environmental effects the power plant has on the community. She noted that one resident, who lives near the Ocean State Power Plant knows of at least six neighbors who have died of cancer. She also noted that the power plant is running on an outdated air permit. DEM has yet to issue a new permit, perhaps due to understaffing. (See: Are corporations co-opting environmental oversight? A conversation with DEM’s Terry Gray)

At least one member of the Town Council downplayed the citations, saying that if they were serious, DEM would have alerted the Town. However, this isn’t how DEM works.

The Ocean State Power Plant was purchased, relatively recently, by LS Power, a North American infrastructure investment company. “For the past year we asked LS Power to meet with us about our concerns. We have emailed, left voice messages, and sent letters to them, but they have totally ignored us,” said Martley. “So we had to come to their front door.”

A group of people from Burrillville BASE and The FANG Collective travelled to New York to visit the corporate headquarters of LS Power. The group stayed in New York for three days, handing out flyers and holding signs outside of the headquarters. Meanwhile, activists organized solidarity protests at LS Power’s offices in San Francisco and New Jersey. LS Power refused to acknowledge the efforts of Martley or the other groups.

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