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United States Announces Settlement of Clean Air Act Suit Against Suffolk County Landfill Owners and Operators

March 7, 2012

Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Judith Enck, Regional Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2, today announced the filing of a Consent Judgment in a civil environmental enforcement lawsuit arising under the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. § 7401, et seq., against defendants 110 Sand Company, C. Broman Transportation Corp., Farmingdale Sand Corp., and Broad Hollow Estates, Inc. (collectively, “defendants”), the owners and operators of a landfill in Melville, Suffolk County, New York. Under the Consent Judgment, the defendants are required to, among other things, operate and maintain state-of-the art pollution control technology designed to control harmful air emissions, comply with strict emissions limitations, operate emissions monitoring equipment and pay a civil penalty in the amount of $150,000.

Since 1981, the defendants have owned and operated a construction and demolition debris landfill which receives materials that, when they decay, produce landfill gases, including hydrogen sulfide. The landfill then collects and combusts the hydrogen sulfide producing sulfur dioxide. Both hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide are dangerous pollutants that can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, and can negatively impact respiratory function in vulnerable populations.

According to the complaint, the defendants’ hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide emissions violated statutory air quality standards. Additionally, the defendants neither installed pollution control technology to regulate their harmful air emissions nor obtained an appropriate permit from the EPA, as required under provisions of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7470-7492. Compliance with air quality standards and the provisions of the Clean Air Act are critical to the protection of air quality and human health.

Since the commencement of enforcement efforts by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the EPA in 2006, the defendants have installed a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art pollution control technology, which treats the hydrogen sulfide collected at the landfill and removes much of the sulfur in the gas. As a consequence of this treatment, the hydrogen sulfide combusted by the landfill’s flare produces greatly reduced sulfur dioxide emissions. The construction and operation of this control technology has reduced harmful emissions at the landfill, and has brought the defendants into compliance with applicable air quality standards. Additionally, the defendants have installed a network of monitoring equipment to monitor hydrogen sulfide emissions at the perimeter of the landfill to serve as an early warning system if there are increases of hydrogen sulfide emissions.

In the Consent Judgment, the defendants have agreed to, among other things: (1) the continued operation and maintenance of the emissions controls that they installed following enforcement efforts by the United States; (2) compliance with strict emissions limitations for sulfur dioxide; (3) the continued operation of monitoring equipment designed to monitor hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide emissions at the landfill; and (4) the maintenance and continued operation of a gas collection system, which collects the landfill’s hydrogen sulfide emissions and delivers them for processing to the pollution control technology. The defendants have also agreed to pay a civil penalty of $150,000.

“The defendants’ violation of federal environmental laws and emission of harmful gases into the air exposed the residents of this district to unacceptable risks to their health and well-being,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “This Consent Judgment ensures that the defendants will remain in compliance with the Clean Air Act and underscores this office’s commitment to protecting the public and the environment from the risk of unnecessary harm.”

“This agreement is a plus for air quality and resolves problems with landfill gas pollution at this construction and demolition debris site,” said EPA Regional Administrator Enck. “The pollution control equipment now installed at this site provides the surrounding communities greater protection for the environment and people’s health. It is essential that all landfill operators comply with all environmental laws. The EPA will work to ensure that this law breaking activity not be repeated.”

The Consent Judgment is subject to a 30-day public comment period, which will begin shortly, upon the publication of a notice in the Federal Register. In addition, the Consent Judgment requires approval by the United States District Court before becoming final.

The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David M. Eskew, with assistance from EPA Assistant Regional Counsel Liliana Villatora.

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