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U.S. Moves To Finalize Revised PREPA Settlement

Release Date: 02/10/1998
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(#98012) San Juan, P.R. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) today asked the U.S. District Court in San Juan, Puerto Rico to finalize the federal government's settlement with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA).

The settlement, embodied in a Consent Decree first proposed in January 1997, has been revised after consideration of comments received from the public. The Consent Decree requires PREPA to bring all of its plants into compliance with all environmental statutes and pay over $6 million in civil penalties, which includes additional environmental projects valued at over $4.5 million. PREPA was cited in October 1993 for multiple violations of air, water, underground storage tank and spill control regulations and hazardous substance reporting requirements. EPA met with community leaders this morning to discuss the changes to the Decree. The Agency will hold a larger public meeting this evening in Guayama, Puerto Rico.

"This is truly an unprecedented settlement," said Jeanne Fox, EPA Region 2 Administrator. "It is one of the most complex Consent Decrees EPA Region 2 has ever developed because it lays out in detail every action that PREPA must take to clean up their act. In fact, in some cases, the settlement actually provides for PREPA to go beyond compliance with the law."

The settlement of the 1993 lawsuit was first proposed and lodged with the U.S. District Court in January 1997. Between January and June 1997, the U.S. solicited and received public comments on the settlement. After considering these comments, the U.S. and PREPA came to agreement on a revised settlement. While many of the changes were clarifications to the original provisions, there were some substantive changes. For example, amendments were made to reflect public concerns that certain interim water discharge permit limits set in the January 1997 Consent Decree were too lax. The current Decree has made more stringent interim water discharge limits and it eliminates some of the interim limits altogether (requiring PREPA to comply with final water discharge permit limits immediately upon entry of the Decree).

Today's Consent Decree, which covers the violations identified in the 1993 lawsuit, includes several unique features. In addition to requiring compliance with all environmental laws, the settlement requires that PREPA install a computer-telemetry system that will allow continuous monitoring of the operation of PREPA's boilers directly from EPA's office in San Juan. PREPA will also fund hazardous materials response training for local fire departments. Two of the additional projects included in the settlement -- the hiring of an environmental expert to work with community groups and the preservation of natural habitat in Cataņo near two of the PREPA power plants -- are based directly on suggestions from groups representing communities located near the PREPA plants. In addition, the settlement stipulates penalties that would automatically be imposed if PREPA fails to comply with any of its provisions.

For more information contact:

Mary Mears, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3669 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: