Our View


Love for Sale?
Mirant Cannot Even Rent It.

The Mirant Potomac River Generating Station finally gave something back to the community where it dwells other than the harmful sulfur dioxide and miniscule particulate matter it emits into Alexandrias air when, last week, it committed to donating $150,000 to the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria.

The Fund is the most crucial higher education depository in the city, awarding nearly $5.5 million in scholarships over the past 22 years. Mirant is obviously attempting to paint itself as a good corporate citizen with the donation, but it will have to do more for the city (shut its doors for good) than covering its infamous existence with a 150k Band-Aid.

Mirant reported revenues of about $1.6 billion in the third quarter alone, not including hedging gains, which brought the companys income to about $2.2 billion, according to CNNMoney.com. The power-generating giant could afford to donate more (and it has, to other organizations) but money cannot buy happiness, nor can it buy redemption. It cannot even rent it.

Alexandrians have spoken out against the plant for years. Residents closest to the plant report feeling physically ill often, some moving away, others standing their ground in hopes that the coal-fired dinosaur, as Del. David Englin (D-45) once called it, will power off for good. Though Mirant recently reached an agreement with the city including an allocation of $34 million toward environmental safeguards, this was expected, not a special treat.

In a June letter from Mirant Vice President Debra Bolton to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an organization performing a study of the plants impacts, Bolton states that the particulate matter is a regional issue and that PRGS does not cause elevated concentrations of [particulate matter]. So, because the fine particles that invade human respiratory systems are part of a larger problem, its no ones fault? This logic is like claiming one vote does not matter to a large jurisdiction, which we are all well aware, is not true.

Mirants donation to the Fund is helpful, sure, but it feels as genuine as its voluntary closing of the plant in 2005 after the state gave it an ultimatum. There is a reason city, state and federal officials, despite entering into the $34 million agreement, continue to lobby for the plants dismantling it is out of date, having been on the Potomac since 1949, and it decreases the citys health and quality of life.

Placing a Band-Aid over a wound may heal the skin but it will do nothing toward erasing the permanent scar thats been forming since the plants inception.