Niagara Gazette — A Niagara Falls waste-to-energy plant has agreed to a fine related to the unpermitted installation of new equipment after negotiations with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Covanta Niagara will pay a $67,500 fine and will not perform any further work on a natural gas boiler, steam pipe system and 190-foot smoke stack, according to a consent order with the DEC signed on Jan. 8.
Megan Gollwitzer, a DEC spokesperson, said the fine was calculated using Environmental Protection Agency guidelines in an email to the Gazette.
The DEC issued a notice of violation on Aug. 1 of last year, two days after DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens received a letter from Lewiston resident Amy Hope Witryol and Niagara Falls residents Chris Kudela and Shirley Hamilton alerting him to the installation of the smoke stack despite the comment period on the company's air permit renewal still being active.
The DEC is still reviewing the company's application to renew its air permit, which includes the new boiler and smokestack in addition to the incinerators the Covanta has been using for decades.
James Regan, a Covanta spokesperson based in the company's Morristown, N.J. headquarters, acknowledged that the company had agreed to pay the fine in an email statement sent to the Gazette earlier this week.
"Covanta has signed a consent order and agreed to a civil penalty with NYSDEC to resolve the notice of violation we received in August 2013. Now that the issue is resolved we look forward to completing the permitting process and moving ahead with our planned improvements to the facility," Regan said in the statement. "Plans include the installation of a natural gas boiler and construction of rail infrastructure which will result in the creation of new jobs in the Niagara Falls area, ensure a consistent supply of steam energy for all the local businesses that depend on Covanta and reduce truck deliveries to the facility by 30-50 percent."