Urge PSC to keep original reporting requirements
Residents of Calvert and nearby counties can attend a public meeting called by the Maryland Public Service Commission on Oct. 2 at 6 p.m. at Patuxent High School to learn the details of and express their views regarding two Dominion Energy requests: 1) Allow Dominion to use two generators as alternative sources of power in the event that its main generators are not working; and 2) delete the requirement for Dominion to measure volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that leak during liquefaction operations.
Dominion’s justification for requesting the PSC to remove the VOC reporting requirement is because of “the infeasibility of applying a measurement methodology to the piping and equipment components” that will leak VOCs at Cove Point when it begins liquefaction operations.
But, in making this request, Do- minion admitted that its engineers significantly underestimated the number of components susceptible to VOC leaks. Initially it said 15,000; the revised number is now 162,700. This error in estimating components resulted in a corresponding underestimate of the amount of VOCs likely to be emitted (2.53 tons per year versus 20.1 tons per year).
There are two major problems with the Dominion request. First, VOCs are very dangerous chemicals that can cause chronic (asthma) and fatal (cancer) diseases. Communities closest to the sources of these emissions (Chesapeake Ranch Estates, Drum Point, Solomons, Lusby and White Sands) are the ones most likely to be subject to the highest concentrations of these pollutants. This makes it extremely important that regulatory agencies monitor these harmful compounds to ensure that operators, such as Dominion, comply with regulated limits for harmful chemicals.
Second, Dominion’s huge estimating error in the number of leak-susceptible components raises serious questions about the credibility of Dominion’s claim that it will comply with regulated limits on hazardous chemicals. Can we trust them?
This public meeting will provide Calvert residents the opportunity to voice their opinions about the proposed revision of PSC regulations and urge the PSC to retain the reporting requirement, but to set it at the 20.1 tons-per-year level until improvements in measurement technologies justify a revision of those estimated levels.
Lila West and David Hardy, Lusby The writers are the respective co-chair and Calvert County conservation chair of the Sierra Club Southern Maryland Group.