Under an agreement announced today by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice, the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (VIWAPA) will come into compliance with air pollution control requirements in the federal Clean Air Act at its Estate Richmond Generating Facility located on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. These air pollution control requirements help reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) that can cause serious respiratory health effects. These pollutants are linked to serious health problems, including asthma, lung and heart disease.
The United States found that the facility violated limits on nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. This agreement is expected to reduce nitrogen oxides emissions by approximately 115 tons per year. The agreement is expected to reduce particulate matter emissions by approximately three tons per year.
“Residents will breathe cleaner air as a result of this agreement to reduce air pollution emissions and bring VIWAPA into compliance with the nation’s Clean Air Act,” said Robert G. Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Justice Department and our partners at EPA are committed to addressing large sources of pollution to ensure the maximum positive impact on public health and the environment.”
“This legal agreement will go a long way toward reducing air pollution in St. Croix and beyond,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “EPA is committed to protecting communities on St. Croix that are threatened by air pollution.”
Under the EPA’s air permit requirements, large industrial facilities that make modifications that increase air pollution emissions must install best available control technology. VIWAPA operates with a permit that requires it to use the best available control technology to control emissions of NOx and PM. EPA found that VIWAPA had not properly operated nor maintained its water to fuel injection pollution control system during various times from October 2005 through December 2012.
The facility also failed to meet the particulate matter emissions limit during testing of emissions from its stacks and failed to conduct continuous monitoring to ensure compliance with its limits. The EPA found that the facility violated its limits for NOx and PM. VIWAPA also did not keep proper records.
Under the agreement, VIWAPA will continue its work to:
• Properly operate and maintain the water to fuel injection pollution control system;
• Develop and maintain an inventory of spare parts for the facility’s water to fuel injection system and emission monitoring equipment;
• 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; and
• 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.
The EPA has worked with VIWAPA over the past several years to address its violations and operations at the St. Croix facility. As a result of that work, VIWAPA has already repaired and replaced pollution controls and monitoring equipment at the facility. It replaced its data system, significantly repaired at least one unit and began purchasing better quality fuel. To date, VIWAPA has spent approximately $4 million to come into compliance with pollution control requirements and will spend at least $2 million a year to maintain compliance. VIWAPA will also pay a $700,000 penalty.
The consent decree was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of the Virgin Islands. Notice of the lodging of the consent decree will appear in the Federal Register allowing for a 30-day public comment period before the consent decree can be entered by the court as final judgment. The consent decree will available for viewing at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html
To learn more about air issues in EPA Region 2, please visit: www.epa.gov/region02/air/.