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Scrubbers Coming to Indiana County

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has approved the installation of $725 million in pollution controls at a General Electric coal-fired power plant in Indiana County.

The controls will be installed by Edison Mission Energy, which operates the plant.

The Homer City Generating Station is Pennsylvania's second largest and produces enough energy to power two million homes. The pollution controls are commonly referred to as "scrubbers."

John Poister, spokesman for the DEP's Southwest Regional Office, says the company approached the DEP, which is unusual. Agencies such as the DEP and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) usually have to approach companies to keep them within regulation.

"The controls are expected to remove about 100,000 tons of actual sulfur dioxide emissions annually. The scrubbers will also provide secondary controls of particulate matter which will include mercury, lead, sulfuric acid mist, hydrogen chloride, fluorides, and what are known as VOCs, volatile organic compounds," said Poister.

It is unknown when the construction will be complete but Poister said it would be "a lengthy process."

Randy Francisco of the Sierra Club says these improvements aren't enough and the company would be better off spending that money on sustainable technologies such as wind turbines in the region.

Edison Mission Energy said construction at the plant is scheduled to end in the Spring of 2014.