Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its final approval of an air permit for the construction and operation of a new 77 megawatt solid waste facility, owned by Energy Answers Arecibo, LLC’s, at the former site of Global Fibers Paper Mill in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
The permit requires Energy Answers to use the best available control technology to reduce air pollutants to the maximum degree. The permit also requires performance tests, some continuous emissions monitoring, as well as other monitoring requirements to make sure that Energy Answers meets the air pollutant limits set in the permit. The EPA reviewed the analysis of the projected air quality impacts and has determined that the facility will meet air quality standards.
Since first proposing the permit in May 2012, the EPA held six public hearing sessions in Arecibo. The agency extended its public comment period and ultimately reviewed over 3,000 public comments before making its final decision. The EPA has carefully considered all comments and oral testimonies, and prepared detailed responses to these comments, which can be found on the EPA’s website at http://www.epa.gov/region02/air/permit/energyanswers. The response to comments is available in English and will be available in Spanish within a week.
The EPA made a number of adjustments to the permit in response to public comments. Several operating, monitoring and reporting requirements in the permit are more stringent than originally proposed. The final permit contains requirements for more frequent testing for dioxin and furan emissions.
In addition to the direct requirements of the permit for the facility, Energy Answers will finance the installation of a second monitor in the community to collect data on lead emissions. This is in addition to a lead monitor that is already operating in the Arecibo area. The Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board also operates an air monitor for particles in Barceloneta, approximately 8 miles from Arecibo.
The EPA’s approval of the air permit may be appealed through the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board in Washington, D.C. The Environmental Appeals Board is authorized to review challenges to air permits issued by the EPA among other matters. For more information, visit www.epa.gov/eab. The deadline for filing a written appeal is July 11, 2013.