Power Company Buys Polluted Village

American Electric Power is buying a village in the Midwest for 20 million dollars. The people who live in the Ohio River village of Cheshire agreed to sell their homes and businesses so they can get away from emissions from AEP’s largest coal-burning power plant in Ohio. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Natalie Walston reports:

Transcript

American Electric Power is buying a village in the Midwest for 20 million
dollars. The people who live in the Ohio River village of Cheshire agreed to
sell their homes and businesses so they can get away from emissions from
AEP’s largest coal-burning power plant in Ohio. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Natalie Walston reports:

Chuck Reynolds bought a house with a large front porch in the village of
Cheshire three years ago. The house is on the banks of the Ohio River.
And his bait shop is next door.

But, by next year, both his house and business will be gone.

“This was gonna be our retirement home. I mean, we planned on staying here
the rest of our lives. We’ve got a beautiful view of the river. We’ve got a
boat dock and of course a boat. And, uh, the business is right next door. Everything’s kind of falling into place for us.”

Reynolds is one of 220 Cheshire residents who have agreed to sell their properties to AEP. For decades people here have complained about the emissions from AEP’s General James M. Gavin plant nearby.

But some people in Cheshire recently threatened to sue AEP after blue clouds of sulfuric acid from the plant’s smoke stacks blanketed the village on humid days last summer. Villagers complained of stinging eyes and sore throats from the clouds.

Ironically, those clouds were created by new equipment that was installed to cut down on smog-causing pollutants that drift to the East Coast. AEP spokesman Tom Ayres says the company has spent millions of dollars to try and stop the sulfuric acid emissions from recurring this summer.

And with that kind of investment … it wasn’t AEP’s idea to buy the community.

“Representatives of the village approached us and we had been in conversations with them on a regular basis since we’d experienced these operating problems last summer. And, um, as I say, over, you know, a course of negotiations this was a solution that was arrived at and sought by, um, you know, representatives of the village.”

Representatives of the village include environmental groups, such as the Buckeye Environmental Council. Theresa Mills speaks for the group. She calls the settlement a victory.

“This village has experienced many, many problems for many years with this plant and they wanted out. And … they got what they wanted. So, in that respect, it is a victory for them.”

While the residents of Cheshire are getting out … school children from the rest of the county aren’t so lucky. There are still two Gallia county schools that remain open within 600 yards of the Gavin plant. Mills says she would like to see the school district sue the Ohio and U.S. EPA for allowing the air to be polluted.

Meanwhile, AEP has plans to expand its Gavin plant once the people move out of Cheshire.

For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Natalie Walston.

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