Jul 18, 2012


The Grand Haven Board of Power & Light, a coal-burning power plant located on Harbor Island, continues to allow numerous, very large piles of coal to sit uncovered on the property. When the wind blows, the coal is lifted from the piles and distributed throughout the immediate area — landing on cars, boats and anything else within its reach.

The most notable example of the extensive pollution and damage is at The Wharf Marina and Grand Haven Yacht Club, located across the Grand River's south channel from the property. Almost every week, the boats and cars in the marina are coated with an unsightly layer of coal dust that permanently destroys canvas, etc., and requires extensive cleaning to remove.

To understand the magnitude of this problem, imagine if a cartridge of copier toner was sprinkled on your home and car every week. The coal dust is black and heavy, and permeates everything in the area.

I'm not writing to debate the topic of coal emissions or the use of coal as a means to power the Grand Haven area. While most would agree it's an antiquated approach to powering the grid, it's a decision that's been made by the city leaders and I accept it. My objection, which is shared by dozens of others in the area, is the plant's decision to allow large, uncovered piles of coal to sit on the property and be subjected to the elements.

I'm publicly challenging the BLP to find a solution to cover the coal piles. A simple roof or even tarps could remedy the problem, prevent the spread of coal dust throughout the area, and ultimately end the extensive damage to personal property.

— Jerry DiTrapani, Spring Lake Township



Perhaps covering it not the proper way to control the alleged dust. Why tie their hands when there may be a better way. I was under the impression the BLP set sprinklers to wet the piles. Would this be an acceptable resolution?


Wetting the piles helps but doesn't really prevent the problem. And I'm told it diminishes the BTUs


More of a concern should be the extensive damage it is doing to our health and our environment. Material things can be replaced. I applaud your challenge.


Sorry to hear your boat & car got dirty. I remember hearing a tourist tell her young daughter that the Simms plant is a 'cloud factory'. I thought that it was a unique way to look at it. We could just turn it off, bulldoze it (along with the old RR coal bin) and buy our power from the grid...yeah, that would work. Then we could put more condos and more marinas there! Hey!

Tri-cities realist

We may disagree on some things, but I like your sense of humor... Good one!


Good comment - made me laugh.

Nobody is suggesting bulldozing the plant or turning it off. I don't think that's the argument the author is trying to make. I think the argument is simply about covering the piles so the coal dust doesn't spread. Really, is that such a big deal?

And I love the old RR coal bin. Did you know it's actually called a Coal Tipple? Great landmark - hope the city keeps it.

Say No To Tourist's

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained personal information and personal attacks. Discussion Guidelines


I believe the paper requires the use of a person's full name for letters to the editor. Just FYI - the charter boat captains settled a lawsuit with the BLP a few years ago because of the coal dust problem.

Say No To Tourist's

Hmmmm, I frequent Chinook pier atleast a couple times a week. Ive yet to see any signs of coal dust either on the charter boats, fish cleaning station or the farmers market area when I go there. It'd be pretty obvious if this was such a serious problem. Like wow that boat is really dirty, next they'll be complaing about sand blowing off Dewey hill or fireworks fallout too....lol!


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