Virginias Air Pollution Control Board has instructed the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to prepare a draft permit that would allow Mirant to internally merge its five smoke stacks into two and release that draft permit for public comment.
The Board met in Newport News last Friday and heard a presentation on such a draft permit from VDEQ. The Board declined to approve that permit but instructed VDEQ to prepare another one that ensures compliance with National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
That is what we have always wanted, said Deborah Ragio-Bolton, Vice President and General Counsel for Mirant. We believe that the stack merge is good for the environment and we will of course comply with NAAQS. That was never a question.
The city saw the Air Boards decision as a victory as well. The clear direction from the Board to DEQ vindicates the citys comments to date, that the stack merge can proceed only with a properly structured, NSR and NAAQS compliant permit, said City Attorney Ignacio Pessoa in a memorandum to members of City Council and the community.
VDEQ will issue a draft permit sometime in the next few weeks. Then there will be a 30-day public comment period before the Air Board votes.
On another front, Mirant has two pending lawsuits against the Air Board: one concerning the interim operating permit under which the plant is currently functioning and the other on the Air Boards decision to require Mirant to obtain a permit to proceed with the stack merge. Both cases will be heard in Richmond Circuit Court sometime next year.