Lawsuit Over Coal-Fired Power Plant Goes To Court

The Big Brown Steam Electric Station in Freestone County is the focus of the lawsuit. (File)
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WACO (February 24, 2014) The owners of a coal-fired electric generating plant in Freestone County are the defendants in a lawsuit that went to trial Monday in U.S. District Court in Waco.

In October 2011 the Sierra Club filed suit against Energy Future Holdings Corp., and Luminant Generation Co., both based in Dallas, and the Big Brown Steam Electric Station near Fairfield, alleging that the plant had violated rules in the federal Clean Air Act.

The original lawsuit in the case on trial Monday was filed May 1, 2012, court documents say.

Big Brown consists of two power generating units: unit 1 came online in 1971 and unit 2 in 1972, the company website profile shows.

The generators burn lignite coal, which is the source of the contamination, according to the Sierra Club lawsuit.

The Big Brown station generates 1,150 megawatts of electric power, enough to power about 575,000 homes in normal conditions and 230,000 homes in peak times, the company says.

But in the lawsuit Sierra Club alleges the company has violated provisions of the act thousands of times, and those violations "adversely affected … sensitive populations such as people with asthma, the elderly, and children who are at elevated risk for deleterious health effects posed by emissions from coal-fired boilers."

Specifically the complaint says since 1996 the plant has violated the 20- and 30-percent particulate limit 20,867 times.

The trial is expected to last all week.