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EPA Fines Pennsylvania DOC $37,000 for Air Violations

For a violation of federal environmental laws, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PDOC) has been fined $37,510. That penalty came in a settlement agreement between PDOC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The agreement resulted from an administrative complaint for violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) at the State Correctional Institution at Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania (SCI). To operate its three coal-fired boilers, SCI had obtained permits. In January 2003, the EPA required PDOC to submit information and ?to conduct particulate matter emission testing and opacity testing of the boilers.

Under the CAA, ?a person may not permit the emission into the outdoor atmosphere of particulate matter per million British Thermal Units.?
During the time period of April 20 through April 22, 2004, all three boilers were tested for high load operating conditions and for low load conditions from June 1 through June 3, 2004.

The average particulate matter results were above that allowed by law. The June testing revealed emissions of 1.19 for Boiler 1, 0.71 for Boiler 2, and 1.86 for Boiler 3. Under a high load, the emissions were: Boiler 1, 0.54; Boiler 2, 0.41; and Boiler 3, 0.27.

PDOC?s permits are regulated by 25 Pa. Code § 123.41, which provides in relevant part: ?a person may not permit the emission into the outdoor atmosphere of visible air contaminants in such a manner that the opacity of the emission is either of the following: (1) Equal to or greater than 20% for a period or periods aggregating more than 3 minutes in any 1 hour (2) Equal to or greater than 60% at any time.? The boilers were tested for visible emissions in April and June also.

In April, Boiler 1 had 46 readings in an hour with 11.5 minutes of visible opacity. In June, Boiler 2?s two tests revealed visible opacity for 11.25 minutes and 4.5 minutes. Boiler 3 revealed three faulty opacity tests of 9.5, 9.5 and 8.0 minutes of visible opacity.

PDOC was considered to be in violation at SCI from April 21 until the July 2005 settlement. The settlement laid no liability on PDOC in assessing the $37,510 civil penalty, which was at that low level because PDOC was found to be acting in good faith to cure the problem. The penalty is for violations within one year of the settlement and future compliance must be determined. See: In re Matter of: State Correctional Institution, EPA Docket No. CAA-3-2005-0152 (2005).

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Related legal case

In re Matter of: State Correctional Institution