Connecticut settles with power plant

Bryan Cohen Jul. 18, 2011, 1:39pm


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen announced on Friday that his office and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection have reached a settlement with the company in charge of a Wallingford, Conn., power plant.

Under terms of the settlement, Covanta Projects of Wallingford LP will be assessed $400,000 in penalties, with $200,000 paid to the state treasurer and $200,000 paid to DEEP for a project that will enhance environmental protection or conserve natural resources. The company had allegedly violated levels of dioxin in the plant's Unit 2 during the facility's annual performance tests, which were conducted on May 26 and 27, 2010.

The agreement prohibits the company from restarting or operating Unit 2 unless it complies with the terms and conditions of a restart and testing plan that was filed as part of the settlement. The plan would require Covanta to conduct more frequent emissions testing and monitoring of the units to ensure that the modifications made by the company are effective at dioxin emission control.

The company shut down Unit 2, which is one of the three units at the Wallingford facility, after the annual emissions tests showed dioxin/furan levels in the stream of exhaust at more than 250 percent higher than the allowable permit and regulatory level.

"This comprehensive agreement takes every precaution to help ensure that when Covanta restarts Unit 2, both public health and the environment will be protected," Jepsen said. "DEEP and my office have taken this violation very seriously and have worked with the company to develop a robust re-start and testing plan that has, at its heart, enhanced and more frequent dioxin emissions testing at the affected unit."

The company said it had made modifications to the heat recovery, air pollution and combustion control systems to that unit and the two others to minimize the formation of dioxin emissions, as well as to improve the control of emissions.

The plant has been closed since July 2, 2010. After consulting with the Connecticut Department of Public Health, DEEP confirmed that despite the high emissions, the amount of dioxin in the ambient air near the facility was still within applicable health-based standards and did not pose a threat to public health. Once Unit 2 is restarted, Covanta must perform a minimum of six tests, rather than the two that would be required under current regulations. If emissions at any time exceed the limit, the company will be required to shut the plant down until a new restart and testing plan is approved by DEEP.

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