The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is proposing revisions to the New Madrid County Nonattainment Area Plan – 2010 Sulfur Dioxide Standard. In January 2017, Magnitude 7 Metals began operating three sulfur dioxide monitoring sites around their facility. In March 2021, a portion of New Madrid County was designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as nonattainment, or not in compliance with the Clean Air Act’s air quality standards.

Photo credit: Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Monitors were installed in 2017 to measure sulfur dioxide concentrations around Magnitude 7 Metals and the nearby New Madrid Power Plant., which identified sulfur dioxide concentrations greater than the standard. The EPA, as a result, established the nonattainment area as of April 20, 2021. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources developed a draft plan to bring the area back into compliance with the standard as soon as possible and presented the plan, which public comments are being sought for through December 19.

According to Adel Alsharafi with the Air Pollution Control Program at the DNR, the plan includes two new, enforceable Consent Agreements, in addition to building a new 65-meter stack at Magnitude 7 to increase sulfur dioxide’s dispersion. The plan does require replacing an existing stack configuration with a new taller one. At issue, however, is the plan doesn’t include specific emission reduction goals for either of the two locations; something that those who spoke during the public comment period on Thursday, highlighted.

“So, I have a lot of concerns about this plan,” says Jenn DeRose, a St. Louis-based Environmental Advocate with the Sierra Club. “As it stands, it doesn’t get at the root causes of SO2 pollution. Instead it pushes the pollution from the smelter higher into the air and essentially makes it someone else’s problem. It also doesn’t address the New Madrid Power Plant’s actual emissions, which amount to upwards of 10 tonnes of SO2 per year.”

There were three people who participated in the public comment portion of the December 1 meeting. All three of them were not in favor of the plan.

“The Air Program prepared this plan in accordance with the Clean Air Act, the Missouri Air Conservation Law, the corresponding state and federal regulations, and EPA guidance,” according to the DNR’s Alsharafi.

The public comment period was extended from the original date of December 8 to December 19, due to a stakeholder request. In addition, there were two virtual public outreach meetings last month in an effort to engage the public on the state implementation plan revision.

Written comments may be submitted by mail to Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Air Pollution Control Program, ATTN: Air Quality Planning Section Chief, PO Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0176 or by email to [email protected].

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