Pinetree Power Fitchburg Assessed $600,000 Penalty for Air Quality Violations
BOSTON - The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has assessed a $600,000 penalty to Pinetree Power Fitchburg, Inc. to resolve a series of longstanding violations of its emission limitations for particulate matter, ammonia, carbon monoxide and opacity, as well as violations of its monitoring and reporting requirements.
A consent order requires Pinetree Power to come into compliance with MassDEP regulations by making substantial upgrades to its existing monitoring and air pollution control equipment. In addition, Pinetree Power must pay $150,000 of the assessed penalty.
Pinetree Power operates a wood and natural gas-fired boiler on Fitchburg Road in Westminster. The facility is also capable of burning shredded, pre-processed paper cubes, as well as landfill gas. Steam from the facility produces approximately 16 megawatts of electricity per hour that is conveyed to the New England electric supply grid. The facility has been producing electricity for the last 20 years.
Under the terms of the consent order, Pinetree Power agreed to install and operate state-of-the-art air pollution control technology known as Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) for the control of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions. The installation of SCR technology will cost the company in excess of $5 million. Pinetree has invested in this new technology to reduce its NOx emissions to a level where it can participate in the Renewable Energy Credit market in other New England states. MassDEP has required Pinetree to install and operate the SCR NOx control technology at the lowest emission rate in the nation, which will reduce the facility's potential NOx emissions by 125 tons per year.
"The air quality permits under which Pinetree Power operates requires that facility emissions be limited to the levels that are protective of public health and the environment," said Lee Dillard Adams, director of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester. "This agreement will ensure that the plant sticks to those levels and greatly reduces its emission of NOx gases."
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.