BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell announced a settlement on Thursday with a power plant in Holyoke, Mass.

As part of the settlement, the Mt. Tom Station will become the first coal-fueled power plant in the state to constantly monitor emissions levels as a result of allegations that the plant repeatedly exceeded emissions limits over the last several years. The plant is owned by FirstLight Power Resources and the Mt. Tom Generating Company.

Under terms of the settlement, Mt. Tom must meet substantially reduced emissions limits for particulate matter, install a continuous emissions monitoring system to measure compliance with those limits, pay a $25,000 penalty to the state and contribute $70,000 to fund a program to educate owners of wood-fired boilers and old wood stoves in the greater Holyoke area to encourage an upgrade to equipment that meets the emissions standards of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Particulate matter is responsible for a wide range of effects on health, including heart disease, lung damage and an increased risk of lung cancer," Coakley said. "While our economy needs power to function, we cannot sacrifice the well-being of our residents. This settlement will help ensure the plant no longer exceeds permit limits."

MassDEP alleged that Mt. Tom violated its emissions limits on multiple occasions in 2009 and 2010. The Conservation Law Foundation alleged that Mt. Tom violated emissions limits thousands of times between 2005 and 2010.

New equipment, including a Turbosorp system, was installed to address the problem in 2007-09. While levels were reduced, the facility allegedly continued to exceed permit levels after the equipment was up and running.

As part of the settlement, Mt. Tom will hire independent consultants to assist in eliminating the ongoing instances of exceeding emission limits.

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