Delaware has taken action to reduce air quality and public health impacts from upwind sources through a Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control petition.

Delaware has taken action to improve air quality and reduce public health impacts from upwind sources through a Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control petition.

The petition asks the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to find that the Harrison Power Station near Haywood, West Virginia, which has three large coal-fired electric generating units, is emitting air pollutants in violation of the federal Clean Air Act and National Ambient Air Quality Standard for harmful ozone.

Short-term exposure to ozone can cause rapid, shallow breathing and related airway irritation, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and exacerbation of asthma, particularly in sensitive individuals and asthmatic children. Short-term exposure also suppresses the immune system, making bodily defenses vulnerable to bacterial infections. Children, the elderly, those with chronic lung disease and asthmatics are susceptible to the pulmonary effects of ozone exposure.

The department argues that Delaware’s air quality is often adversely affected every summer by unhealthy ozone. DNREC also filed a CAA 126 petition last month against the Brunner Island power plant in York County, Pennsylvania. DNREC believes more air pollution will occur as long as Harrison Power Station and Brunner Island continue emitting pollutants without proper controls, particularly nitrogen oxide.

DNREC Secretary David Small said in the 126 petition that more than 94 percent of the ozone levels in Delaware are created by the transport of air pollutants from upwind states, while the department has worked with power producers and manufacturers in Delaware to sharply reduce emissions within the state’s borders.