Coal Plant Pollution Controls Increased Emissions EPA Complaint Alleges
The U.S Environmental Protection Agency has notified Portland General Electric that its Boardman coal-fired plant has been out of compliance with federal pollution rules since 1997 — but Oregon state officials disagree, KGW-TV reports.
“It did pretty come out of the blue we hadn’t any notification it was coming,” PGE Spokesperson Steve Corson said. “We don’t believe there were violations. This is not something we somehow did in secret… we worked with our regulators… they knew what we were doing.”
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality agreed.
“We haven’t taken any enforcement on the company… we haven’t issued a notice and we didn’t see any violation of a requirement,” DEQ spokesman Andrew Ginsburg told KGW-TV.
The eight-page order from the EPA contends that attempts to curtail pollution at the plant in Eastern Oregon actually increased pollution.
PGE has denied the company is out of compliance with EPA rules. It continues a permitting and review process that keeps the plant running through 2020.
According to EPA, PGE’s Failure to comply could result in fines of $25,000 per day for violation that predate 1997, and up to $37,500 per day for violations since then. The agency noted that the violations could also result in criminal enforcement actions being initiated by the U.S. Attorney General for the utility violating the Clean Air Act.
DOE and Washington Dept. of Ecology Reach Hanford Cleanup Agreement
The U.S. Department of Energy and Washington State Department of Ecology jointly filed a motion on Wednesday in U.S. District Court asking the court to approve and enter a judicial consent decree (pdf) that imposes a schedule for cleaning up waste from Hanford’s underground tanks. The settlement also includes new milestones in the Tri-Party Agreement (TPA), an administrative order between DOE, Dept. of Ecology, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which governs cleanup at DOE’s Hanford Site.
“Today’s agreement represents an important milestone in the ongoing cleanup efforts at the Hanford Site,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a press release. “This will ensure our continued progress as we work to meet our commitments to the State of Washington to protect the environment, the public and the Columbia River.”
Energy Secretary Chu, Governor Gregoire, Washington Attorney General McKenna and other state and federal officials announced the proposed consent decree and modifications to the TPA in August 2009, and received input from stakeholders and interested governments prior to finalizing it. The TPA amendments were signed by DOE, Ecology and EPA earlier this week. Both aspects of the settlement (the TPA modifications and the consent decree) become final when the consent decree is approved and entered by a federal judge.
The consent decree is the product of several years of negotiations by the parties and is part of the settlement of a lawsuit that the Dept. of Ecology filed against DOE that was later joined by the state of Oregon to compel the completion of key aspects of the Hanford cleanup.
Hanford currently stores over 53 million gallons of radioactive and chemical waste in 177 underground tanks at the site. The Waste Treatment Plant is being designed and built to immobilize the tank waste in a glass form in a process called vitrification.
The agreement contains milestones for the cleanup process that will continue through 2052 if the project is on schedule.
The DOE and the state of Oregon have also agreed upon a consent decree that recognizes Oregon’s interest in the cleanup effort and provides Oregon the right to receive copies of certain reports and notices.
Metal Finisher Fined for Hazardous Waste Violations
EPA has proposed a penalty of $54,397 against a metal finishing and electroplating facility in Saco, Maine, for five counts of violating state and federal hazardous waste laws, the agency announced Thursday.
According to EPA, Southern Maine Specialties violated state hazardous waste laws and the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by improper storage, labeling and other management of hazardous waste, and for failing to provide adequate employee training.
The EPA complaint alleges that Southern Maine stored containers of hazardous waste next to incompatible material; failed to provide required hazardous waste management training for employees; exceeded the limit of 55 gallons of one type hazardous waste in one place by storing two 55-gallon containers of sodium hydroxide sludge together.
According to the complaint, the company also failed to comply with tank management standards by having a tank of hazardous waste that was not designed to hold it, was not labeled with the words “hazardous waste,” and was not being managed according to required tank operating standards.
The complaint filed last month resulted from an inspection of the facility by EPA in January.
Railroad Fined for Diesel Spill in Oregon Creek
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the settlement Thursday.
The agency says 4,200 gallons of diesel went into Cow Creek near Riddle, forcing city schools and a water treatment plant to shut down for two days due to water contamination.
The spill also threatened salmon and steelhead habitat in the creek, EPA said.
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