Merrimack Station Delays Second Smoke Stack Retest Following Failed February Test

Community Members Keep Watch Over Coal Plant While Awaiting Word on Third Re-Test

Bianca Sanchez,

BOW, NH. – Merrimack Station, New England’s largest remaining coal plant, canceled its second smokestack retest of the year on Thursday, November 30. The retest was scheduled following allegations by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) that the plant’s particulate matter emissions exceeded EPA limits by 70% during a February test. The plant’s owner, Granite Shore Power, aborted the first scheduled retest in October following a mechanical failure. A smoke stack retest has yet to be completed since and, according to DES, Merrimack Station is currently not in compliance.

Since the second canceled retest, New Hampshire Sierra Club members in the Capital Region community have kept a close watch on the smokestack. Today, the New Hampshire Sierra Club chapter released a collection of photos captured over the past two weeks showing plumes of various sizes rising from the stack. In some photos, the air surrounding the plant is a hazy shade of brown in stark contrast to the blue skies above. 

In May, DES warned Granite Shore Power that operating the coal units before a successful stack test performance would “constitute an excess emission and a deviation from permit conditions.”

In response to the plant’s continued operations, Catherine Corkery, Senior Regional Organizing Representative with the New Hampshire Chapter, issued the following statement:

“It is incredibly disheartening to see smoke rise above the Merrimack Station smoke stack day-after-day. Without properly passing a stack test, it is uncertain whether the coal plant is operating at permissible particulate matter levels. Exposure to PM can cause or worsen cardiovascular disease, asthma, and diabetes. Heightened pollutants put our elderly, children, neighbors with chronic medical conditions, and Concord — one of the state’s most racially diverse communities — at great risk. 

These consequences cannot be ignored. New Hampshire Sierra Club volunteers and staff will continue to look out the windows of our homes and workplaces for signs of toxic pollutants in the air throughout the region. We call on DES to ensure Merrimack Station passes a performance test before continuing operations.”

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit