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Westar to Spend $500M to Settle Emissions Violation

JeffreyEnergyCenterWestar Energy has agreed to pay a $3 million penalty and spend about $500 million to upgrade its Jeffrey Energy Center coal-fired power plant to reduce sulfur-dioxide and nitrogen-oxide emissions as part of a settlement to resolve violations under the Clean Air Act.

This settlement sets the most stringent limit for sulfur-dioxide emissions imposed on a coal-fired power plant in a federal settlement, which will lower sulfur-dioxide and nitrogen-oxide emissions by thousands of tons each year, according to the EPA.

Installation of pollution control equipment at the Jeffrey Energy Center is expected to reduce combined emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by roughly 78,600 tons per year, which is 85 percent below 2007 emissions.

Westar also will surrender surplus sulfur-dioxide allowances, which cannot be used again. The power company will also rebuild and optimize controls to reduce particulate matter emissions, according to the EPA.

As part of the settlement, Westar will also spend $6 million on environmental mitigation projects that include retrofitting diesel-powered vehicles owned by public entities, installing new wind turbines at schools and nonprofits, installing advanced equipment at truck stops to reduce emissions from idling, and reducing emissions from Westar’s fleet by retrofitting diesel vehicles and buying hybrids, reports The Wichita Eagle.

Westar says (PDF) it completed a three-year project in 2009 that cuts sulfur-dioxide emissions at Jeffrey by over 95 percent, and already scheduled projects to install new low-nitrogen oxide burners and electrostatic precipitators will move forward as planned.

The settlement is part of the EPA’s enforcement initiative to control harmful emissions from coal-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review requirements.

Other power companies recently cited for violations under the New Source Review requirements include Duke Energy and Kentucky Utilities Company.

Portland cement manufacturer Lafarge North America in Herndon, Va., and two of its subsidiaries have agreed to pay a $5 million civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review regulations, and all of the company’s operating facilities, including those in Buffalo, Iowa (also known as the Davenport plant); Fredonia, Kan. and Sugar Creek, Mo., will be required to install roughly $170 million in new air pollution control equipment.

The pollution control equipment is expected to reduce the plants’ emissions of nitrous oxide by more than 9,000 tons per year, and reduce sulfur-dioxide emissions by more than 26,000 tons per year.

Interestingly, two of Lafarge’s facilities were among 17 first-time winners of EPA’s Energy Star award in 2006 in recognition of their energy-efficient operations that prevented roughly 3 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.

The EPA also settled with container glass manufacturer Saint-Gobain Containers. All of the company’s operating facilities must install approximately $112 million in new air pollution control equipment. The company also agreed to pay a $2.25 million civil penalty to resolve its alleged violations of the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review regulations.

The pollution control equipment is expected to reduce emissions of nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter by approximately 6,000 tons each year.

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