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Power Company Agrees To Spend $650 Million To Cut Pollutants

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - East Kentucky Power Cooperative has agreed
to spend $650 million on equipment to reduce emissions and pay a
$750,000 fine to settle a lawsuit over pollution, federal officials
announced Monday.
The Winchester-based power company would install high-tech
anti-pollution equipment at three plants in eastern Kentucky under
the proposed agreement, according to a joint statement from the
Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency. The
company would pay the fine to resolve alleged violations of the
federal Clean Air Act at the plants, the statement said.
"The emissions reductions from this settlement are substantial,
and we are pleased that East Kentucky has agreed to bring its
facilities into compliance with important provisions of the Clean
Air Act," Ronald J. Tenpas, acting assistant attorney general for
the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources
Division, said in the statement.
The federal government filed a lawsuit against East Kentucky
Power in 2004, alleging the company made illegal modifications that
led to increased pollution at its coal-fired power plants in Clark
and Mason counties. The company allegedly did not have the proper
permits for making the changes and did not install proper pollution
control equipment.
Federal officials claimed that the not-for-profit company
increased air pollution when it modified the plants to create more
power by burning more coal. The increased pollution allegedly
occurred at its William C. Dale Plant near Winchester and at its
H.L. Spurlock plant in Maysville.
"We have worked diligently to bring about a settlement that
allows our cooperative to continue to meet our members' future
power needs while bolstering our commitment to the environment,"
Bob Marshall, president and CEO of East Kentucky Power, said in a
statement.
Despite agreeing to the settlement, the company maintained it
has been and remains in compliance with the Clean Air Act.
Installing the new anti-pollution equipment will reduce
emissions of chemicals that cause smog and acid rain by more than
60,000 tons per year, according to the federal agencies.
"The combined reductions in sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides,
and particulate matter mandated by this settlement will greatly
improve the air quality for the citizens of Kentucky," Jimmy
Palmer, the EPA regional administrator in Atlanta, said in the
agencies' statement. "This settlement has tremendous significance
for our ongoing effort to ensure cleaner air for our citizens."
The proposed settlement was filed in U.S. District Court for the
Eastern District of Kentucky. There will be a 30-day public comment
period, and the agreement needs court approval before taking
effect.
Eric Schaeffer, director of the Washington-based Environmental
Integrity Project, called the company's penalty "frustrating"
because it did not cover the full cost of damage done to the
environment. Each ton of sulfur dioxide released into the air costs
about $7,300 in terms of the impact on public health, Schaeffer
said.
"These guys never pay enough - $750,000 for a big power plant
is pretty minimal," Schaeffer said. "At that price, it pays to
pollute."
--
On the Net:
U.S. Department of Justice:
http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent-Decrees.html.
East Kentucky Power Cooperative: http://www.ekpc.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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