The Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that Dominion Energy has agreed to pay a $3.4 million civil penalty and spend approximately $9.8 million on environmental mitigation projects to resolve Clean Air Act (CAA) violations.
The settlement will result in reductions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter by more than 70,000 tons per year, across three of the utility’s coal-fired power plants, located in Kincaid, Ill., State Line, Ind., and Somerset, Mass.
“Today’s settlement substantially reduces harmful pollution from coal-fired power plants in and around communities with significant air pollution concerns,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Along with the pollution reductions at the three power plants covered by the agreement, the settlement also requires Dominion to invest over $9 million in pollution reducing projects in neighboring communities.”
“This settlement will improve air quality in states in the Midwest and Northeast by eliminating tens of thousands of tons of harmful air pollution each year,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “These reductions mark the latest step in our continuing efforts, along with EPA, to protect public health and the environment through rigorous enforcement of the Clean Air Act.”
Under the settlement, Dominion must install or upgrade pollution control technology on two plants, and permanently retire a third plant. Dominion will be required to continuously operate the new and existing pollution controls, and will be required to comply with stringent emission rates and annual tonnage limitations. The actions taken by Dominion to comply with this settlement will result in annual reductions at the Brayon Point and Kincaid plants of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions by 52,000 tons from 2010 levels. The retirement of the State Line plant will result in an additional reduction of 18,000 tons of SO2 and NOx.
The settlement also requires Dominion to spend $9.75 million on projects that will benefit the environment and human health in communities located near the Dominion facilities. A total of $9 million will be spent on such projects as ; 1) wood stove changeouts, including $2 million for changeouts in southeastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and eastern Connecticut; 2) switcher locomotive idle reduction for Chicago rail yards, 3) land acquisition and restoration adjacent to, or near, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, 4) energy efficiency and geothermal/solar projects for local schools and food banks, and 5) clean diesel engine retrofits for municipalities and school districts. Dominion must also pay a total of $750,000 to the United States Forest Service and the National Park Service, to be used on projects to address the damage done from Dominion’s alleged excess emissions.
Reducing air pollution from the largest sources of emissions, including coal-fired power plants, is one of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives for 2011-2013. SO2 and NOx, two key pollutants emitted from power plants, have numerous adverse effects on human health and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog, and haze. These pollutants are converted in the air to fine particles of particulate matter that can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts, and premature death. Reducing these harmful air pollutants will benefit the communities located near Dominion facilities, particularly communities disproportionately impacted by environmental risks and vulnerable populations, including children. Because air pollution from power plants can travel significant distances downwind, this settlement will also reduce air pollution outside the immediate region. The total combined sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emission reductions secured from all power plant settlements to date will exceed nearly 2 million tons each year once all the required pollution controls have been installed and implemented.
The settlement was lodged today in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.
More information about the settlement: www.epa.gov/enforcement/air/cases/dominionenergy.html
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)