Local power plant air quality rating prompts NAACP meeting

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The NAACP chapter in Gulfport hosted a town hall meeting concerning Plant Watson on Lorraine-Cowan Road. The meeting was sparked after a report by the American Lung Association gave the Mississippi Power plant a "D" score.

Several concerned citizens showed up to the Good Deeds Community Center in Gulfport on Tuesday to learn more about the air quality in South Mississippi. Former state representative Frances Fredericks lives within a 30 mile radius of Plant Watson, and says everyone should want to be informed of what's happening in the community.

"We can do better when we know, and we don't know right now, so to get the information will help us to live better in our communities," said Fredericks.

Jacqui Patterson, who leads the NAACP's Environmental and Climate Justice Program, led the discussion.

"The objective is to really let folks know what's going on in terms of the threat they're living under and let them know what their options are in terms of addressing the pollution that they're facing in their communities," said Patterson.

Plant Jack Watson is owned by Mississippi Power. A recent report graded air quality near the plant a "D." But Mississippi Power Media Relations Manager Amoi Geter says they are well aware of their plant's emissions.

"We not only meet but we exceed the compliance level in all areas of our environmental compliance, so our focus tonight is to ensure that people understand facts and know that our commitment remains strong. And we'll continue to do that not only with Plant Watson but all of our generating facilities across the surface territory," said Geter.

Representatives with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality attended the meeting as well. Director Trudy Fisher says despite the low scores for Plant Watson, air quality in Mississippi continues to improve.

"We think here in Mississippi, from our unique prospective at DEQ, that we do a little bit better than the national model is saying and we want to continue that dialog to explain why we think that," said Fisher.

There are 378 coal fired power plants in the nation. Jacqui Patterson with the NAACP says there are increased health concerns for anyone living within a 30 mile radius of one of these plants. Below are links to several studies done on Plant Watson:


Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.