EPA Settles Clean Air Act Violations for Princeton, N.J. Facility
NEW YORK — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the U.S. Department of Justice has lodged a settlement with the Stony Brook Regional Sewerage Authority (SBRSA) in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey that will resolve violations of Clean Air Act and New Jersey Air Pollution Control Act regulations at SBRSA’s wastewater treatment plant in Princeton, N.J. The settlement will be subject to a 30-day public comment period.
Under the proposed settlement, SBRSA will bring the facility into compliance with federal and state laws that protect clean air by reducing pollution from sewage sludge incinerators. SBRSA will also pay a $335,750 civil penalty. The State of New Jersey joined the federal government as a co-plaintiff in this case.
“This settlement means cleaner air for communities in Mercer County with the Stony Brook Regional Sewerage Authority improving how it manages sewage sludge at its Princeton facility,” said Regional Administrator Lisa Garcia. “If not done properly, sewage sludge incineration can pose serious public health risks and this settlement will establish critical safeguards for how the Authority manages, monitors and reports this type of activity.”
“The proposed settlement is an important step in protecting the environment and public health in Mercer County, and ensuring that the Stony Brook Regional Sewerage Authority facility complies with state and federal laws,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette. “We thank Regional Administrator Garcia, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General for their efforts on this enforcement action. The DEP will continue to work with our partners at all levels to protect air for every community in New Jersey.”
The federal government and the state had alleged that beginning in 2016, SBRSA failed to develop required plans and operating parameters to comply with the sewage sludge incinerator requirements for the Princeton facility, which burns municipal sewage as a way to dispose of it. Sewage sludge can contain a range of pollutants like mercury, lead, and cadmium that can pose public health threats when the sludge is burned without appropriate safeguards.
Under the settlement, SBRSA must take the following measures at the Princeton facility to bring it into compliance with federal and state clean air laws:
- Develop plans to monitor the mercury concentration of sewage sludge as an enforceable operating limit;
- Establish site-specific operating limits to control air emissions and monitor compliance with those limits, and apply for a modification of its existing air emissions permit to incorporate these limits;
- Establish and maintain procedures to minimize and eliminate bypass events, which result in uncontrolled air emissions.
During discussions with EPA and the state that led to this settlement, SBRSA took corrective actions to comply with the Clean Air Act sewage sludge incinerator requirements prior to lodging of the settlement. Those actions included installing an alternative power supply to minimize bypass events and changing its operating procedures to better anticipate bypass events.
This settlement is part of EPA’s multi-regional initiative to bring municipal sewage sludge incinerator facilities into compliance with Clean Air Act requirements.
For more information on Clean Air Act requirements for municipal sewage sludge incinerator facilities, visit: https://www.epa.gov/stationary-sources-air-pollution/sewage-sludge-incineration-units-ssi-new-source-performance