Ariz. power plant agrees to install controls to reduce harmful emissions Settlement also requires power plant to pay a $950,000 civil penalty
The Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District (SRP) has agreed to install state-of-the-art air pollution controls at an estimated cost of $400 million, pay a $950,000 civil penalty and spend $4 million on environmental improvement projects in Arizona to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at its Coronado coal-fired power plant near St. Johns, Arizona.
In a complaint filed today in federal court in Arizona, the federal government alleged that SRP illegally modified two units at the plant, thereby increasing air pollution. SRP was cited for failing to obtain necessary pre-construction permits and install required pollution control equipment to reduce the byproducts of coal combustion, sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx).
The settlement, filed today concurrently with the complaint, requires SRP to install two scrubbers to control SO2, burners to limit NOx, and a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) unit to further control NOx emissions. This is the first settlement ever to require an SCR retrofit of an existing coal-fired electric generating unit in the Western United States. The controls will reduce combined emissions of SO2 and NOx by over 21,000 tons each year.
“Power plant modifications must include required emissions controls to protect public health and the environment,” said Wayne Nastri, administrator for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “These air pollution controls, coupled with local environmental projects, will improve air quality for all the people of Arizona and improve visibility at our national parks.”
Under the settlement, SRP will spend $4 million on environmentally beneficial projects to reduce air emissions and mitigate the impacts of the alleged violations. The projects include the following:
• Retrofitting public school bus diesel engines in the Phoenix metropolitan area with pollution control equipment;
• Installing solar photovoltaic panels on school buildings in Arizona, and funding the maintenance of the panels for at least 10 years;
• Offering incentives to residential homeowners, such as rebates, toward the replacement of pre-1988 wood stoves with cleaner burning, energy-efficient stoves or hearth appliances.
Nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide emissions cause severe respiratory problems and contribute to childhood asthma. These pollutants are also significant contributors to acid rain, smog, and haze which impair visibility in national parks. Air pollution from power plants can travel significant distances downwind, crossing state lines and creating region-wide health problems.
This is the fifteenth settlement secured by the federal government as part of its enforcement initiative to control harmful emissions from coal-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review requirements. The total combined SO2 and NOx emission reductions secured from these settlements will exceed over 1.8 million tons each year once all the required pollution controls are installed and operating.
The proposed settlement is lodged with the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, and will be subject to a 30-day public comment period. A copy is available on the Department of Justice Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/open.html.
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