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News Releases from Region 02

EPA and State Propose Settlement of Clean Air Act Violations at Sewage Sludge Incinerator in Bridgewater, NJ

06/02/2020
Contact Information: 
Sonia Mohabir (mohabir.sonia@epa.gov )
(212) 637-3241

NEW YORK - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the State of New Jersey Division of Law are announcing a proposed settlement with the Somerset Raritan Valley Sewerage Authority (SRVSA), which would resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and state permitting requirements associated with sewage sludge incineration at SRVSA’s wastewater facility in Bridgewater, New Jersey. Under the proposed settlement, SRVSA would pay $225,000 in penalties for the past violations. This amount will be divided evenly between EPA and the State of New Jersey. The settlement also requires SRVSA to comply with all outstanding requirements of the sewage sludge incineration regulations, including conducting a performance test and the submission of control and monitoring plans and other reports.

“It’s important that sewage sludge incinerators comply with these rules which ensure that the facilities are being properly run and are controlling the pollutants, including mercury, that they emit into the air,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “Thanks to the intervention of EPA, the U.S. Department of Justice and NJDEP, this facility has upgraded an incinerator unit. We are pleased with this outcome and we continue our efforts to achieve compliance at facilities like this across the country.”

“This proposed settlement is an important step in protecting the environment and public health in the Bridgewater area,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe.  “We would like to thank Regional Administrator Lopez, the Department of Justice and the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General for their collaboration on this enforcement action. Enforcing New Jersey’s air emissions standards is a continued priority for the DEP and we will continue to work with our partners at all levels to protect New Jersey’s air for everyone in the Garden State.”

The proposed settlement announced today grows from a broader effort by EPA to bring sewage sludge incinerators into compliance with Clean Air Act regulations that establish emission limits for all regulated pollutants and annual inspection testing, monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

SRVSA had operated two sewage sludge incinerators (SSI) at its Bridgewater facility. EPA found that SRVSA failed to demonstrate compliance with emission limits and failed to establish operating parameter limits that would be used to ensure compliance with emission limits for pollutants such as mercury. SRVSA also failed to satisfy performance testing requirements and submit required control and monitoring plans and reports, among other violations. New Jersey found the facility in violation of state requirements as well. In 2017 and 2018, SRVSA failed to operate components associated with one SSI unit in accordance with its operating permit, which is a violation of the New Jersey Air Pollution Control Act and its implementing regulations. SRVSA has agreed to comply with all Clean Air Act requirements for one of its two units and has ceased operations at the other unit after a catastrophic failure occurred there. This closed unit has been taken out of SRVSA’s Clean Air Act operating permit. If SRVSA ever brings the unit back into use, it would be bound by today’s agreement to meet all state and federal permitting and operating requirements.

Today’s proposed settlement also includes a state-only, non-federal mitigation project. SRVSA has agreed to spend no less than $50,000 to implement a Project School Clean Sweeps Mercury Recovery Program to collect mercury thermometers and other mercury-containing equipment at five schools in Somerset and Middlesex Counties.

The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. Once it is published in the Federal Register, a copy of the consent decree will be available on the Justice Department website at https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees

For more information about EPA’s requirements for Sewage Sludge Incinerators, visit https://www.epa.gov/stationary-sources-air-pollution/sewage-sludge-incinerators-final-standards-performance-new

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