Locals “speak out” about plant’s continued operation

Jaysa Mellers, a 10-year-old from Bridgeport who suffers from asthma, urges plant owner PSEG to power down by 2020. (Photo: Sarah Lewis)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Bridgeport locals met Tuesday night to voice their concerns about the proposed installing and operating of a combined cycle gas power plant at the Bridgeport Harbor Station.

According to the drafted Community Environmental Benefits Agreement (CEBA), the Bridgeport Harbor Station owner, PSEG, plans to pass over the permits “as soon as possible,” pending the community’s agreement. Notably, the CEBA would establish a $2 million Community Environmental Benefit Fund (CEBF), contingent on certain conditions. PSEG would invest an additional $5 million for renewable energy investment options in Bridgeport.

Still, the coal-based Harbor Station was expected to shut down, so for some locals, this agreement would be a step backwards.

Bridgeport resident and local activist Jorge Cruz voiced his concerns with the city’s entering into such an agreement.

“We live in a democracy. This agreement wakes away the ability of community groups and residents to lobby their elected officials if folks think that a gas plant is not best for the future of our city.”

Impacted residents, like Diane Lentakis, pointed out the environmental impacts.

“There will be a period of at least one year in which there will be an overlap of both polluting power plants. Is it not enough that Bridgeport has had to contend with the pollution from its coal-fired plant since the 1960s?”

Jaysa Mellers, a 10-year-old at Bryant School who suffers from asthma, spoke to the health effects of burning fossil fuels.

“In the year 2047, I will be 41-years-old, my mom’s age. Maybe, maybe not, I will have a 10-year-old daughter. If we don’t do something about cleaning up our air in Bridgeport, she, along with other children, will have breathing issues like I do. Let’s work together to clean the air for Bridgeport families to breathe.”

Another resident, Bob Halstead, suggested the CEBF match PSEG’s investment, and be increased to $7 million, “with the caveat that the majority of recipient agencies should be Bridgeport-based.”

Sarah Lewis, organizer with Toxics Action Center, tells News 8 that the “Speak Out” was an opportunity for the community to respond to the proposed agreement, and to voice their varied concerns.

The event preceded Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting, where the proposed resolution was referred to the Economic and Community Development and Environment Committee for review.

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