Sunday, September 5, 2021

EPA Hoist on Own Petard

WUWT, EPA Penalized for Polluting

Under the category you can’t make this stuff up, the September 3, 2021 Federal Register included a notice of a proposed settlement agreement, enforcement action alleging air pollution violations for the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Edison New Jersey facility. The federal agency responsible for compliance with environmental regulations did not comply with New Jersey boiler and emergency generator regulations.

According to the Federal Register notice:

“In November 2019, New Jersey conducted an inspection of EPA’s Edison facility and found several state law violations regarding EPA’s boilers and emergency generators. Based on

this inspection, and further information provided by EPA, New Jersey alleged the following types of violations:
  • Failure to seek new general permits when the boilers and emergency generators were replaced;
  • Operating the boilers and emergency generators with expired general permits;
  • Operating one emergency generator on five bad air days;
  • Operating one boiler on one bad air day; and
  • Improper tune-ups and/or tune-up report submission for two boilers.”
EPA delegates the responsibility to inspect facilities to the states upon approval of implementation plans. On a regular basis inspectors show up at the facility and go through the permits and records to make sure everything is being done correctly. It appears that during the inspection when the boiler and emergency generator specifications were compared to the existing permits there was a discrepancy. I can only imagine the consternation of the folks at EPA when it became obvious that someone had overlooked the rules. This ended causing two violations: one for not getting a new permit and one for operating under an expired permit. Those are paperwork violations that cause no harm to the environment.

However, the inspection also found that EPA was not operating the units correctly and that does harm the environment. In non-attainment areas, facilities are required to not operate emergency generators unless absolutely necessary on “bad air days”. I am not sure exactly how “bad air days” are defined but I believe they are days when either the observed or projected air quality is close or exceeds a national ambient air quality standard. In this instance it almost certainly represents nitrogen oxides emissions and the ozone ambient air quality standard. Therefore, EPA could have contributed to a violation of the ozone standard.

Any fine should be taken out of the director of that facility's pocket. But I doubt a fine will be imposed; probably just a paperwork acknowledgment of the screwup and a promise to do better in the future.

Linked at Pirate's Cove in If All You See…

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