Report lists Tennessee power plant as one of the top industrial polluters in the U.S.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

CUMBERLAND CITY, Tenn. (WKRN) — You can see the large plumes of smoke coming from the Cumberland Power Plant for miles before you arrive to Cumberland City, Tennessee.

Pam Barfield’s husband worked at the plant for 20 years. She said she is not concerned about a report listing the plant as one of the top industrial polluters in the U.S.

“This plant is not a health issue as it is projected to be, it is what is keeping these people living in these areas. This is their livelihood,” said Barfield.

According to data from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and a joint report released from USA Today, The Center for Public Integrity and the Weather Channel, the coal fired power plant accounts for 26 percent of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions and about 11 percent of the toxic release inventory for Tennessee.

The plant’s spokesperson, Scott Brooks said he is aware of the findings because the plant likely provided the information to the EPA.

Brooks said the Cumberland Plant is one of the largest fossil plants in the Tennessee Valley Authority fleet.

“So it’s expected that the amount of emissions would coincide with the amount of water we release from the plant,” said Brooks.

He also said the plant is within its permitted state and federal guidelines for emissions.

Even so, some people who live near the plant said they still have some concerns.

“There has to be a better way, a different way. A coal burning fossil plant may be vital to our economy and our energy plan but there has to be a better way of capturing those pollutants,” said Robert Spurgeon who lives near the plant.

When we asked Brooks if people should be concerned he said, “I think the simple answer would be absolutely not. TVA is doing everything it can to make sure we protect the environment.”

Toxic Release Inventory tracks the management of certain toxic chemicals that may pose a threat to health and the environment.

Plants are required to report to the EPA how much toxic chemicals they release into the environment and manage.

For more information on the top 22 facilities that are in the top 100 for both toxic-air and greenhouse-gas emissions reported by companies, click here.

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