EPA Settlement with Synagro Northeast and City of Woonsocket Will Address Air Emissions
WOONSOCKET, R.I. – The United States, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has reached a proposed settlement with Synagro Northeast, LLC and the City of Woonsocket for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.
Under a proposed consent decree filed in the federal district court in Providence, Synagro, the operator, and Woonsocket, the owner, of the sewage sludge incineration (SSI) unit in the Woonsocket Wastewater Treatment Facility will pay a civil penalty of $373,660 and take measures to bring the facility into compliance with Clean Air Act operating and emission limits designed to reduce the amount of air pollution emitted from the SSI unit.
"This proposed settlement provides important benefits for communities in and around Woonsocket," said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. "Historically, urban areas like Woonsocket may have had more air emissions due to industrial and transportation sources. EPA is committed to enforcing environmental laws and addressing Environmental Justice concerns. Clean air regulations reduce air pollution and improve public and environmental health protection, which benefits everybody."
The Woonsocket Wastewater Treatment Facility processes sewage waste from the City of Woonsocket and the adjacent communities Bellingham, Blackstone, and North Smithfield. The facility's sewage sludge incineration unit reduces the volume of sewage sludge, but in doing so emits a variety of air pollutants. Under Clean Air Act rules implemented in 2016, an owner and operator of an SSI must meet emissions standards for air pollutants including mercury, lead, cadmium, dioxins and furans, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and nitrogen oxides.
The proposed settlement advances EPA Administrator Michael Regan's direction that EPA strengthen enforcement of environmental statutes in communities disproportionately impacted by pollution, with a special focus on achieving remedies with tangible benefits for the community.
The proposed consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island on December 13, 2021, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. To view the proposed consent decree or to submit a comment during the public comment period, visit: usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html
Requirements for sewage sludge incinerators: epa.gov/stationary-sources-air-pollution/sewage-sludge-incinerators-final-standards-performance-new
Clean Air Act enforcement: epa.gov/enforcement/air-enforcement
Effects of mercury pollution: epa.gov/mercury/basic-information-about-mercury
Environmental Justice: epa.gov/environmentaljustice