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Environmental Enforcement: Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections Settles EPA Suit

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has sued two state agencies in Pennsylvania over emission violations attributed to coal-fired boilers at four state prisons.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed the suit on behalf of EPA last Friday in U.S. District Court against the Department of Corrections and Department of General Services concurrently with a proposed consent decree in which the commonwealth agrees to pay a $300,000 civil penalty and take corrective action.

EPA’s complaint alleges Clean Air Act violations at boiler plants generating power, heat and hot water at the four correctional facilities.

Under the terms of settlement, each of the four facilities is making changes at its boiler plant to reduce emissions of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides.

The consent decree also specifies the use of coal that meets certain criteria, including a heating value of at least 13,400 British thermal units to reduce emissions. Samples from each truckload of coal are to be collected and analyzed weekly with the test results submitted to the state Department of Environmental Protection and EPA.

The settlement involves the State Correctional Institution at Muncy in Lycoming County; the State Correctional Institution at Rockview in Centre County; the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon in Huntingdon County; and, the State Correctional Institution at Laurel Highlands in Somerset County. These prisons are owned and operated by the Department of General Services and the Department of Corrections.

The state may, with approval of EPA and DEP, replace the three coal-fired boilers with units that contain emission controls required at the time under state and federal regulations.

The  consent decree is available for public comment for a period of 30 days before it can be approved by U.S. District Court Judge Christopher C. Conner.

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