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Waterbury, Conn., Incinerator to Control Mercury Emissions

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Emily Bender (

(Boston) - Emission control equipment to limit the discharge of mercury pollution to the atmosphere will be installed at an incinerator owned by the City of Waterbury, Conn., according to a proposed agreement between the city and federal government.

The City and, Synagro Northeast, which is contracted by the City of Waterbury to operate the sewage sludge incinerator, are both responsible under the agreement for the necessary upgrades at the Waterbury sewage sludge incinerator. A consent decree spelling out the agreement was lodged in federal court by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

The Waterbury incinerator processes sewage waste from the city's wastewater treatment plant as well as from more than 30 other communities. Incineration of sewage sludge results in emissions of various pollutants, including mercury, dioxins and furans, cadmium, lead, and carbon monoxide. EPA Clean Air Act rules that came into effect in 2016 require sewage sludge incinerators to meet stringent emissions standards for 10 pollutants, to test emissions, and to institute procedures to limit emissions.

Waterbury and Synagro failed to meet the deadline for complying with the rules regarding mercury emissions and for various other requirements of the rules, but contacted EPA to work out a plan and schedule for complying, which is included in the agreement.

The consent decree provides that Waterbury and Synagro will install and operate mercury controls within 18 months, and promptly meet all other requirements of the EPA incineration rules. They will pay a penalty of $104,000, and take measures to limit the mercury content of sewage sludge received at the incinerator.

The consent decree is available for public comment for a period of 30 days from publication in the Federal Register, and is accessible at