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United States Files Clean Air Act Complaint Against Homer City Power Plant

Release Date: 01/06/2011
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543, smith.bonnie@epa.gov

PHILADELPHIA ( Jan. 6, 2011) The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a Clean Air Act complaint on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency against the owners and operators of the Homer City Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant in Homer City, Indiana County, Pa.

The facility, located at 1750 Power Plant Rd., is operated by EME Homer City Generation L.P. and currently owned by eight individual limited liability corporations. Prior owners, Pennsylvania Electric Company and New York State Electric & Gas Corporation are also cited in the complaint.

“The Clean Air Act was intended by Congress to protect the public from air pollution, including pollution from large sources of emissions like coal-fired power plants,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “We are taking this step to protect the quality of the air people breathe not only in Homer City, but also in the communities that are located downwind of this power plant.”

According to the complaint, beginning in 1990 the defendants violated the Clean Air Act New Source Review requirements by making major modifications to the boiler units at the power plant and continuing to operate without first obtaining appropriate permits and installing and operating the best available pollution control technologies to reduce sulfur dioxide and particulate matter.

In addition, the complaint alleges that the defendants have not disclosed the plant’s major modifications, the need for best available control technologies, nor the appropriate emissions limits in their request for a Title V operating permit from Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection. Also, the defendants’ Title V permit did not include the required limits on emissions that would be achieved using the best available pollution control technologies.

In its complaint, the government seeks injunctive relief requiring the defendants to comply with all applicable Clean Air Act requirements and a monetary penalty.

Air emissions can have harmful effects to human health and the environment. Particulate matter – from visible soot to microscopic particles – can damage lung tissue and contribute to cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is the major precursor for fine particles in the east coast. It interacts with the atmosphere to form sulfate aerosols, which can harm people who suffer from asthma or bronchitis. SO2 also helps form acid rain, which degrades forests, damages waterways and accelerates the decay of buildings.

The complaint is part of a federal government initiative to bring operators of coal-fired power plants into full compliance with the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act. For more information about New Source Review, visit http://www.epa.gov/nsr/.

Additional information about EPA enforcement to address Clean Air Act New Source Review compliance at coal-fired power plants, see http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/coal/index.html.