CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION SECURES SETTLEMENT THAT WILL RESULT IN PERMANENT CESSATION OF COAL USE AT PORTLAND, PA. POWER PLANT,
IMPROVING AIR QUALITY IN NEW JERSEY
(13/P54) TRENTON – The Christie Administration has secured an agreement that will result in the permanent cessation of the use of coal at GenOn REMA’s Portland, Pennsylvania power plant, resulting in cleaner air for New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin announced today.
“This is a tremendous win for cleaner air and better health for the residents of New Jersey,” Commissioner Martin said. “For too long, the coal-fired generators at this power plant emitted levels of sulfur dioxide and other pollutants at levels that were unhealthy for our residents. That’s why the Christie Administration took aggressive action very early on to force significant reductions in pollution levels from the power plant.”
The plant for years spewed high levels of sulfur dioxide and other pollutants across the Delaware River into Warren County and other parts of northern New Jersey.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in October 2011 granted New Jersey’s Section 126 petition seeking dramatic reductions of air emissions from the Portland Generating Station, located in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. This was the first single-source 126 Petition the EPA has ever granted under the Clean Air Act, and the first time it has granted a petition for a power plant bordering another state. The power plant must meet pollution reduction limits set by the EPA as a result of this petition until the coal units are permanently retired.
Commissioner Martin noted that the DEP did not call for closure of the coal units at Portland but suggested installation of currently available air pollution controls, including a scrubber.
In its petition acceptance, EPA required the power plant to reduce SO2 emissions by 60 percent within one year, and by 81 percent within three years. EPA provided the power plant with flexibility to choose the most cost-effective strategy for meeting these limits, including installing proven and widely available pollution control technologies.
Under terms of the settlement agreement reached by attorneys from the Division of Law within the New Jersey Attorney General's Office on behalf of the DEP, New Jersey and Connecticut reserved the right to seek $1 million for environmental mitigation projects or the surrender of sulfur-dioxide allowances that are permitted under federal law. The consent decree formalizing the agreement was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2), mercury and many other contaminants emitted into the air from this facility are carried in the atmosphere across the Delaware River to communities in Warren County, and also negatively impact air quality in Morris, Sussex and Hunterdon counties.
The DEP’s air monitoring station in Knowlton Township, Warren County, which is one mile from the Portland power plant, has measured the highest short-term sulfur dioxide levels in all of New Jersey, due to pollution emanating from the Portland generating station. The sulfur dioxide coming from the plant is known to contribute to a variety of adverse health effects, including asthma and respiratory failure, and environmental impacts such as acid rain.
The air pollution from this plant, however, is not limited to sulfur dioxide. The plant also emits high levels of nitrogen oxides, mercury, hydrochloric acid, lead and other air pollutants, including fine sulfate particles that travel on the wind throughout northern New Jersey, and to New York, Connecticut and beyond.
For a copy of the consent decree, visit: http://nj.gov/dep/docs/genon_consentdecree.pdf
For a copy of the lodging notice for the consent decree, visit: http://nj.gov/dep/docs/genon_noticelodging.pdf
For more information on the DEP’s efforts regarding the Clean Air Act Section 126 Petition, including a fact sheet, map, charts, and a photo of the Portland plant, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/docs/portland.html