EPA: WAPA must bring Estate Richmond plant into compliance with Clean Air Act

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ST. CROIX - At its regular monthly meeting Thursday, the V.I. Water and Power Authority Governing Board voted unanimously to allow the utility to order spare parts needed to be in compliance with its most recent agreement under a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Under a legal agreement announced Wednesday by the EPA and the U.S. Justice Department, WAPA is expected to come into compliance at its Estate Richmond Generating Facility on St. Croix with air pollution control requirements in the federal Clean Air Act.

The air pollution controls will reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter that can cause serious respiratory health effects and are linked to serious health problems, including asthma and lung and heart disease.

The EPA found that WAPA had not properly operated or maintained its water-to-fuel-injection pollution control system at the Richmond Power Plant from October 2005 through December 2012.

The facility also failed to meet the particulate matter emission limit during testing of emissions from its stacks, failed to conduct continuous monitoring to ensure compliance with its limits and did not keep proper records.

Under the new agreement, WAPA is expected to:

- Properly operate and maintain the water-to-fuel-injection pollution control system.

- Test and properly operate a "real-time" emission monitoring system to ensure compliance with air pollution limits.

- Conduct quality assurance testing of air-monitoring systems.

- Conduct stack tests to demonstrate compliance with the Clean Air Act.

- Employ an independent third party to develop protocols, enable proper operation of the air pollution monitoring systems, train staff and audit its compliance for three years.

- Develop and maintain an inventory of spare parts for the facility's water-to-fuel-injection system and emission monitoring equipment.

Thursday's action item by the WAPA board authorized $143,870 for an amendment to an existing contract with Rockwell Automation to provide spare parts for the utility's combustion turbines and continuous opacity monitors at the power plants in both districts.

Under the EPA's air permit requirements, large industrial facilities that make modifications that increase air pollution emissions must install the best available control technology.

WAPA operates with a permit that requires it to use the best available control technology to control emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

Judith Enck, EPA regional administrator, said the legal agreement will help reduce air pollution on St. Croix and beyond. Nitrogen oxide emissions are expected to be reduced by 115 tons annually, and particulate matter emissions are expected to be reduced by approximately 3 tons per year, she said.

Robert Dreher, acting assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in a prepared statement that residents will breath cleaner air as a result of the agreement to reduce air pollution emissions and bring WAPA into compliance with the nation's Clean Air Act.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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