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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
March 18, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Law
- Nancy Kaplen, Acting Director

 

Peter Aseltine
609-292-4791

 
Ohio Edison Power Plant
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Attorney General Harvey Announces Settlement Securing Major Air Pollution Reductions at Ohio Edison Power Plant

TRENTON – New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey joined today with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to announce a major air pollution settlement involving a huge Ohio Edison plant on the Ohio River that is one of the nation’s dirtiest coal-fired power plants. The air pollution reductions will reduce acid rain, urban smog and respiratory disease in the Northeast.

Under the agreement announced with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the W.H. Sammis coal-fired power plant, located near Steubenville, Ohio will slash its air pollution emissions. Giant smokestacks at the plant, including one measuring 1,000 feet, send massive amounts of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides on prevailing winds northeastward from Ohio.

“New Jerseyans should not be forced to breathe unhealthy air because power companies refuse to cut into their profits to install newer, more efficient pollution controls,” said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. “We will continue to fight corporate lawbreakers to protect our air quality.”

“This settlement, driven by our victory in the liability trial, is a powerful affirmation that corporate polluters cannot defy the law and profit at the expense of the environment and the health of our residents,” said Attorney General Peter C. Harvey. “It also reaffirms the role of state attorneys general in enforcing the Clean Air Act and achieving substantial pollution reductions. This settlement will remove hundreds of thousands of tons of noxious pollutants from the air and will protect the health of people in New Jersey and throughout the Northeast, particularly children with asthma and senior citizens with respiratory ailments.”

“New Jersey’s residents can breathe easier as a result of today’s settlement,” said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. “Victories like this one are all the more important given the significant lack of federal leadership in protecting states from the effects of upwind power plants.”

On August 7, 2003, New Jersey and co-plaintiffs New York, Connecticut and the EPA gained a sweeping victory in their suit against Ohio Edison when U.S. District Court Judge Edmund Sargus, Jr. ruled that the company violated the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act by failing to install modern pollution controls in connection with 11 upgrades at the Sammisplant, which were found to be major modifications that significantly increased emissions.

New Jersey Deputy Attorneys General Kevin Auerbacher, Section Chief for Environmental Enforcement, and Jean Reilly tried the case together with attorneys from New York, Connecticut and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Before a second trial was held to address remedies for Ohio Edison’s violations of the law, the parties began settlement negotiations and reached the comprehensive settlement announced today which will reduce air pollution emissions from four coal-fired power plants. View Ohio Edison Consent Decree (278k PDF) free PDF plugin

Under the terms of this settlement:

  • Ohio Edison will install pollution controls at the Sammis plant that will reduce air pollution from that plant by 70-80 percent;
  • Because of space constraints at the Sammis plant, Ohio Edison will put full controls on the two largest Sammis units accounting for over half of the plant’s capacity, and equipment for significant pollution control on the remaining five units at the plant. Ohio Edison will then reduce pollution at its Burger coal plant in Ohio, its Mansfield coal plant in Pennsylvania and the First Energy coal plant in East Lake, Ohio.
  • As a result, the total air pollution reductions achieved by the settlement at the four plants will exceed the total current air pollution emissions at Sammis.
  • Ohio Edison will pay $2.8 million to New Jersey to fund environmental projects in the State;
  • Ohio Edison will pay a penalty of $8.5 million to the federal government within 30 days;
  • Ohio Edison will pay $400,000 to Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, which filed an amicus brief in the case, for solar projects; and $215,000 to the National Park Service for environmental monitoring projects; and,
  • Ohio Edison will fund the development of up to 100 megawatts of wind power in western Pennsylvania.

The Sammis plant, located on the Ohio River, has 7 units and 4 smoke stacks, the tallest being 1,000 feet. By comparison, the Chrysler Building in New York City is 1,048 feet high. In 2003, the Sammis plant emitted 164,000 tons of sulfur dioxide – more than are emitted by all of the power plants in New Jersey and Connecticut combined. Sammis emitted 40,430 tons of nitrogen oxides in 2003.

The lawsuit against Ohio Edison is one in a series of Clean Air Act enforcement measures launched by the attorneys general of northeastern states. Other such cases include:

  • A $700 million settlement that New Jersey and the federal government reached in January 2002 with PSEG Fossil LLC which required the company to install pollution controls to eliminate the vast majority of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from its Mercer and Hudson coal-fired power plants in Hamilton and Jersey City; and
  • A $1.2 billion settlement reached in April 2003 by New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and the federal government with Virginia Electric Power Co. which required the company to retrofit its eight coal-fired power plants with pollution controls to achieve major reductions in plant emissions which impact New Jersey’s air quality.
 
>> view Ohio Edison Consent Decree (278k PDF) free PDF plugin
 
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