EPA taking action against power plant for lack of pollution control

Avon Lake

By Bryan Wroten

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency filed an enforcement action against the GenOn power plant on Lake Road for failing to install necessary pollution control devices.

NPR recently broadcast and published, online, a story about a secret U.S. EPA “watch list,” specifically pointing out the Avon Lake plant and the agency’s accusation the plant didn’t install modern pollution control devices during an upgrade. The story also indicated the plant released into the air more than 2 million pounds of lead, mercury, arsenic and other toxic chemicals in 2010, referencing the company’s reporting to the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory.

Phillippa Cannon, spokeswoman for the U.S. EPA, said the enforcement action was taken in June, but she could not comment beyond what is available in public documents.

According to the notice of the violation sent to GenOn, the company (then known as Reliant) made various physical changes and/or changes in the method of operation to the plant’s Unit 9 generation station, resulting in significant emission increases in nitric oxide, sulfur dioxide and/or particulate matter. The project constitutes a “major modification,” the notice states, and the company failed to obtain a PSD permit or a permit-to-install, as required.

The notice also stated GenOn violated, and continues to violate, federal law by  “(1) constructing major modifications to existing major sources at the above-listed facilities without applying for or obtaining the PSD permits and operating the modified facilities without installing the BACT (best available control technology) or going through PSD review, and (2) without installing appropriate emission control equipment in accordance to BACT analysis.”

The notice went on to state similar ongoing violations for “constructing a major modification to existing major sources at the above-listed facilities without applying for permits-to-install and operating the modified facilities without installing LAER, obtaining federally enforceable emission offsets at least as great as the new or modified sources’ emissions,

certifying that all other major sources that it owns or operates within Ohio are in compliance with the Act.”

GenOn spokesman Mark Baird said the company disagrees with the NPR report and that they are

in compliance with all federal and Ohio EPA

regulations.

When asked if the company disagrees with the notice from the U.S. EPA, he said, “yes and no,” adding it’s very detailed and he was unable to comment on that.

“Suffice to say, we disagree,” he said.

GenOn had a dialogue going on with the U.S. EPA before the NPR story emerged, he said, and will

continue to work with the agency until the issue is resolved.

As for the work done at the plant and whether it met the requirements for an upgrade, Baird said he wasn’t sure of the answer.

“We don’t believe there was any violation and currently are in compliance,” he said.

Contact Bryan Wroten at bwroten@2presspapers.com and www.twitter.com/bryanwroten

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