U.S. Announces Settlement of Landmark Clean Air Act Case Against Ohio Edison

March 21, 2005

The Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency today announced the settlement of their landmark Clean Air Act case alleging that Ohio Edison Company, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., violated the New Source Review (NSR) provisions of the Clean Air Act at the W.H. Sammis Station, a coal-fired power plant in Stratton, Ohio. The states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, who are co-plaintiffs in the government's lawsuit, also join the settlement. The consent decree agreed to by Ohio Edison will reduce emissions of harmful sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the Sammis plant, as well as from other Ohio Edison and FirstEnergy coal-fired power plants, by over 212,000 tons per year. The pollution controls and other measures required by the consent decree are expected to cost approximately $1.1 billion.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in 1999 as part of a federal government initiative, joined by the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, to bring operators of coal-fired power plants into compliance with the NSR provisions of the Clean Air Act. The Sammis Station is one of the largest sources of air pollution in the nation, emitting a total of tons of SO2 and NOx in 2003. After a four-week trial in 2003 the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio agreed with the government that there were NSR violations at the Sammis plant. The court had not yet held the second trial needed to determine what pollution controls, penalty and other remedies would be required for these violations. The settlement resolves the remedy phase of this litigation, thereby averting a trial.

The Consent Decree will reduce SO2 and emissions from the Sammis Station by a total of 134,500 tons of SO2 and 28,567 tons of NOx per year. Pollution controls will be installed at all seven of the Sammis steam-generating units, and a plant-wide cap will be imposed on and emissions. The two largest units, which account for over half the plant's pollutant emissions, will receive state-of-the-art pollution controls known as flue gas desulfurization devices (scrubbers), which reduce SO2 emissions by at least 95 percent, and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) devices, which reduce NOx emissions by at least 90 percent. Pollution controls will be installed between 2005 and 2010. The final plant-wide caps and emission reduction levels will be achieved in 2012.

Ohio Edison and FirstEnergy will provide over 49,000 tons per year of additional reductions in SO2 and NOx emissions from three other power plants: the Burger plant in Belmont County, Ohio; the Mansfield plant in Beaver County, Pa.; and the Eastlake plant in Eastlake, Ohio. These additional reductions will be achieved by upgrading existing pollution controls or installing new pollution controls at these plants. These additional reductions will bring the total SO2 and emission reductions under the Consent Decree to over 212,000 tons per year by 2012.

Ohio Edison also will provide a total of $10 million to the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to perform environmentally beneficial projects related to air pollution in those states. The specific projects will be determined by the states after the consent decree is entered. Allegheny County will receive $400,000 to install a solar power project at one of the County's municipal buildings. Ohio Edison also will provide $215,000 to the National Park Service for an environmentally beneficial project related to air pollution in Shenandoah National Park, a Clean Air Act "Class I area" that has been adversely impacted by emissions from Sammis and other power plants.

The proposed Consent Decree will be lodged with the United States District Court in Columbus, Ohio, for a thirty-day public comment period.

Lowes, Pardee Homes, 3M Among 50 to Win Recognition for Energy Efficiency, Greenhouse Gas Reductions

Lowes Companies Inc., Food Lion, Pardee Homes, USAA Real Estate and 3M are among 50 businesses and organizations to win EPA and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recognition for outstanding contributions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency.

Last year alone, Americans with the help of Energy Star, saved enough energy to power 20 million homes, reducing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that of 20 million cars- - all while saving consumers $10 billion. More than 360,000 new homes have earned the Energy Star distinction, and more than 15,000 office buildings, schools, supermarkets and hotels have established benchmarks of their energy performance as a basis for future progress.

Energy Star was introduced by EPA in 1992 as a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce air pollution through increased energy efficiency. Today, in partnership with the Department of Energy, the program offers businesses and consumers energy efficient solutions to save energy, money and help protect the environment for future generations. More than 7,000 organizations have become Energy Star partners and are committed to improving the energy efficiency of products, homes and businesses.

For a listing of the 50 award winners and their categories, please click here: http://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/pt_awards/2005_award_winners.pdf.

Winners will be recognized at an awards ceremony on March 15 at the Capital Hilton in Washington DC. For more information, see: http://www.energystar.gov or call toll-free 1-888-STAR-YES (1-888-782-7937).

$81 Million Settlement For Air Pollution Violations

The California South Coast Air Quality Management District filed an $183,114,000 lawsuit against BP West Coast Products for thousands of air quality violations at the companyÆs Carson refinery. The agency agreed to an $81 million settlement which includes $30 million for a new community outreach program in which doctors will attempt to diagnose possible asthma and other health problems in thousands of the refineryÆs neighbors.

AQMDÆs lawsuit was a sequel to a civil action filed against BP in 2003 seeking $413,985,000 for thousands of similar air quality violations. That lawsuit, representing the largest penalty ever sought by AQMD, is still ongoing. Combined, the two lawsuits seek more than $597 million. "Emissions from the Carson refinery have significantly impacted its neighbors, including school children, and posed a very serious air pollution problem," said Barry Wallerstein, AQMDÆs executive officer.

AQMD claimed that BP illegally released air pollutants by failing to adequately inspect, maintain, repair and properly operate thousands of pieces of equipment across the refinery as required by AQMD regulations. In some cases, the violations were due to negligence, while in others the violations were knowingly and willfully committed by refinery officials, the lawsuit alleges. AQMD cited violations associated with the refineryÆs storage tanks, valves, wastewater and "sour water" systems, flares and other equipment dating as far back as 1991, including:

  • Failure to properly maintain more than three dozen petroleum storage tanks and floating roofs on tanks, allowing excess emissions of smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOC)
  • Failure to account for and properly inspect approximately 140,000 refinery components, resulting in excess VOC emissions
  • Failure to adequately maintain an industrial wastewater system, resulting in excess emissions
  • Failure to properly operate the refineryÆs "sour water" and vapor recovery systems, resulting in more than 125 illegal releases of odors and particulates
  • Numerous violations associated with the refineryÆs flares, including tampering with flare monitoring equipment, dramatically reducing the number of air pollution samples taken from flares; and making false statements to AQMD regarding flares

AQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Motiva Pleads Guilty to Negligent Endangerment and Clean Water Act Violations

Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, Thomas V. Skinner, Acting Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance at the Environmental Protection Agency, and Richard G. Andrews, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced yesterday, March 17, 2005, that Motiva Enterprises LLC pleaded guilty to negligently endangering workers at its former refinery in Delaware City, DE, discharging pollutants into the Delaware River and negligently releasing sulfuric acid into the air, both in violation of the Clean Air Act. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Chief U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson immediately sentenced Motiva to pay a fine of $10 million and to serve a three-year term of probation.

Motiva, an oil refining and retail business owned by Shell Oil Company and Saudi Refining, Inc., refines and markets gasoline to approximately 9,400 Shell-branded and Texaco-branded gasoline stations. Together with Shell Oil Company, Motiva ranks as a leading refiner in the United States. They collectively account for about 10 percent of the total U.S. refining capacity and a market-leading 13 percent share of U.S. gasoline sales.

On July 17, 2001, Tank 393, a 415,000 gallon capacity tank at Motiva's Delaware City Refinery, exploded while containing spent sulfuric acid, which is a mixture of sulfuric acid, water, and hydrocarbons. The explosion killed one worker, Jeffrey Davis, and injured numerous others. Spent sulfuric acid from the tank farm spilled into the Delaware River, resulting in thousands of dead fish and crabs.

Shortly before the explosion, according to the statement of facts, Motiva had several warnings from its own employees about Tank 393's problems. Nevertheless, workers were sent to acid tank farm to repair the catwalk connecting the tanks on July 17, 2001, and a hot works permit was issued for the job. During the afternoon of that day, flammable vapors from Tank 393 reached a heat source, and the resulting explosion caused the Tank 393 to separate from its foundation pad. Mr. Davis's body was never recovered. Additionally, approximately 99,000 gallons of sulfuric acid drained into the Delaware River for days after the explosion

EPA Announces First-Ever Rule to Reduce Mercury Emissions From Power Plants

Acting Administrator Steve Johnson will signed Tuesday, March 15, the Clean Air Mercury Rule, a rule that will significantly reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants across the country. Taken together, the recently issued Clean Air Interstate Rule and the new Clean Air Mercury Rule will reduce electric utility mercury emissions by nearly 70 percent from 1999 levels when fully implemented.

"This rule marks the first time the United States has regulated mercury emissions from power plants," Acting Administrator Steve Johnson said. "In so doing, we become the first nation in the world to address this remaining source of mercury pollution."

The Clean Air Mercury Rule will require reductions at our largest remaining source of human-generated mercury emissions, electric utilities. Mercury is a persistent, toxic pollutant that accumulates in the food chain. While concentrations of mercury in the air are usually low, mercury emissions can reach lakes, rivers and estuaries and eventually build up in fish tissue. Americans are exposed to mercury primarily by eating certain species of fish. Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet. However, pregnant women, women of childbearing age, nursing mothers and young children should avoid certain types of fish that are high in mercury.

Today's rule limits mercury emissions from new and existing coal-fired power plants, and creates a market-based cap-and-trade program that will permanently cap utility mercury emissions in two phases: the first phase cap is 38 tons beginning in 2010, with a final cap set at 15 tons beginning in 2018. These mandatory declining caps, coupled with significant penalties for noncompliance, will ensure that mercury reduction requirements are achieved and sustained.

The cap-and-trade system established under today's rule also creates incentives for continued development and testing of promising mercury control technologies that are efficient and effective, and that could later be used in other parts of the world. In addition, by making mercury emissions a tradable commodity, the system provides a strong motivation for some utilities to make early emission reductions and for continuous improvements in control technologies.

For more information about the rule, go to: http://www.epa.gov/mercuryrule . For more information about mercury in fish, go to: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/fishadvice/advice.html . For more information about FDA's fish advisory go to: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~frf/sea-mehg.html.