Letter to the Editor: Danskammer might make us wear masks forever

The Danskammer Energy company is trying very hard to convince us that their project will make our lives better.

They have been running the old, formerly coal-fired Danskammer power plant in the Town of Newburgh since 2014.  It can burn gas or oil, and is on stand-by for periods of high demand, operating less than 5% of the time.

However, the company wants to “modernize” (meaning, “expand with a new facility”) the existing plant, and to operate almost continually, more than 75% of the time.  Amazingly, they claim the result will be less air pollution. 

“Gas technology is one of the cleanest power options available”, they say.

But it’s not.  The Union of Concerned Scientists says, “No, Natural Gas Power Plants Are Not Clean “.  This highly respected scientists’ organization tells us that these plants produce major pollutants, specifically nitrogen oxides (NOx), which causes respiratory problems and “also reacts with other substances in the air to produce particulate matter and ozone.”  

Which, in turn causes a list of other problems like shortness of breath, heart attacks, and premature death, (are you reminded of COVID 19).

Proponents correctly say vehicle traffic does put out more NOx emissions than stationary sources like power plants, but those plants, such as Danskammer, are sitting there putting out NOx day after day, for almost the entire year.  A fully operational Danskammer would dirty the air around lovely homes in Balmville, the Newburgh and Marlboro school districts, and disadvantaged communities in the City of Newburgh.  It would combine with emissions from the airport, several asphalt plants, the Anheuser Busch can plant, fuel storage on the riverfront, etc.

And this isn’t the whole story.  Danskammer Energy LLC would also build a new compressor station, needed to regulate gas pressure for the new, ‘modern’ Danskammer facility.  They’ve been quiet about this.

Compressor stations are opposed wherever they are planned and we already have one in Orange County.  Newburgh town resident Nora Gallardo wrote how groups near Minisink have not stopped fighting their compressor station for years.  

They have suffered from constant noise, nosebleeds, headaches, asthma, and other symptoms caused by the volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), along with higher particulates, nitrous oxides, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, that the station puts out.

Scientists Russo and Carpenter, from the University at Albany, have written in great detail about dangerous impacts from compressor stations. 

Did you know that Danskammer Energy LLC recently donated masks to the Town of Newburgh for distribution to frontline and emergency workers, to protect against COVID 19?  How nice.

But, if their expansion plan goes through, we may need to wear our face masks for the foreseeable future. 

That’s not good.  Let’s stop this degrading ‘upgrade’ while we still have time.

Sandra Kissam
Town of Newburgh

The views expressed in this letter belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of Mid Hudson News.

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