EPA Taking Comments on Planned Waste-to-Energy Plant in Puerto Rico

Date: June 22, 2012

Source: US EPA

The US EPA held a recent press conference to say it is accepting public comments on its proposed approval of an air permit for a waste-to-energy plant under development in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Its developer Energy Answers International has proposed to build a 77 megawatt facility similar in technology and size to the 3,000 ton-per-day SEMASS facility it developed in Rochester, MA, now owned by Covanta Energy. The Arecibo project would be built at the site of an old paper mill.

The project has a contract with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to sell 70 megawatts out of 80 megawatts generated at the plant. "Statistics show that the total usage of Puerto Rico is 4,000 megawatts per day and Energy Answers will contribute 2 percent, substituting burned fuel with fuel obtained from trash," said Energy Answers attorney, Rafael Toro.

June 22, 2012

EPA to Hold Public Hearing on Air Permit for Arecibo Solid Waste Incinerator on Monday, June 25

Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez (212) 637-3664; rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is repeating its announcement that it is accepting public comments on its proposed action to approve an air permit to construct a garbage incinerator in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Energy Answers International, Inc. has proposed to construct a new 77 megawatt facility at the former site of the Global Fibers Paper Mill in Barrio Cambalache, Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

The EPA encourages public participation and input in this decision. The EPA will hold a formal public hearing on June 25, 2012, from 6:00 pm until the last speaker has been heard. The hearing will also be held in the Theater of the University of Puerto Rico at the Arecibo campus, which is located in the Business Administration building of the University. The address of the campus is Carretera 653 Km. 0.8 Las Dunas Sector, Arecibo. Comments given at this hearing will be part of the official public record and will be considered as comments on the air permit. EPA encourages all interested parties to participate in the public hearing and to submit comments on the proposed action either in writing or by participating at the public hearing.

The EPA is proposing an air permit for the facility after evaluating the potential impact of the facility on air quality by comparing it to EPA air quality standards which are established to protect public health. The EPA's evaluation also included assessing the impact of the facility on nearby low income communities. Based on information available to date, EPA has concluded that operation of the facility will not cause any health standards to be exceeded or any communities to be disproportionately and adversely impacted.

To obtain an the EPA permit, Energy Answers was also required to demonstrate that the pollution controls on the plant are as strict or stricter than any other plant being built in the United States today. The EPA has included these pollution controls, which are considered the best pollution control technology available, as requirements in the proposed permit.

The proposed permit also requires Energy Answers to test the pollution it emits to the atmosphere. Before the facility can begin full operation it must demonstrate it meets the pollution limits the EPA is proposing to establish. The permit requires pollution levels to be measured and reported to the EPA during operation. Failure to meet any of these standards would subject the facility to EPA enforcement actions.

The EPA is asking for public comments on this preliminary decision to approve Energy Answers' application. Written comments may be submitted at any time during the comment period, which remains open until June 29. EPA's final permit decision will be made only after full consideration of all public comments received.

The administrative record for the proposed decision, which includes all documents relevant to the EPA's proposed permit, is available Monday Friday between 9:00am and 4:30 pm in the EPA's Caribbean Environmental Protection Division at City View Plaza III-Suite 7000 in Guaynabo. The documents are also available online through the Interamerican University-Arecibo Campus website at www.arecibo.inter.edu/reserva/epa/epa.htm. In addition, the administrative record is also available for viewing in EPA's New York offices at 290 Broadway in New York City.

Public comments may be mailed or emailed to:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Region 2
Division of Environmental Planning and Protection
Air Programs Branch - Permitting Section
290 Broadway, 25th Floor
New York, New York 10007-1866
Attention: Mr. Steven C. Riva
(212) 637-4074


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Region 2
Caribbean Environmental Protection Division
City View Plaza III-Suite 7000
#48 Rd. 165 km 1.2
Guaynabo, PR 00968-8069
Attention: Mr. Jose Font
(787) 977-5870

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