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New NASA data shows decrease in sulfur emissions

December 13 2011

Using data from NASA’s Aura satellite, a group of scientists has confirmed that U.S. coal-fired power plants in the United States have significantly reduced dangerous sulfur dioxide emissions over the past several years.

Sulfur emissions in the 2008-2010 period alone were a whopping 40% lower than in 2005-2007.

“What we’re seeing in these satellite observations represents a major environmental accomplishment,” said Bryan Bloomer, a scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency.

The dramatic reductions are largely due to the installation of desulfurization devices and other technologies at power plants across the country, modifications prompted by the 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule that put a cap on sulfur emissions. Many of these desulfurization projects have been completed by TAUC member contractors and their partners in the building trades international unions under the NMAPC program.

For instance, TAUC contractors worked on the installation of FGD systems for two units at Allegheny Energy’s Fort Martin Power Station near Maidsville, West Virginia, with the goal of reducing the units’ sulfur dioxide emissions by 90%. The project received an NMAPC Zero Injury Safety Award in 2007.

Member contractors were also on the job at Duke Energy’s Cayuga Generating Station, assisting in the installation of an FGD system. TAUC member Triangle Enterprises logged more than 50,000 injury-free man hours installing pipe and ductwork installation, and was also awarded with an NMAPC Zero Injury Safety Award for its efforts.

View NASA’s full story on the data here.

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