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Operator of Gas Collection System at Central Landfill Agrees to Pay $85,000 Penalty

Release Date: 07/21/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON – The owner and operator of a portion of the landfill gas collection system at Central Landfill in Johnston, RI, has agreed to pay $85,000 for violations of environmental laws regulating gas collection at landfills.

The agreement and order was signed this week by GASCO and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. GASCO is made up of four entities – the LKD Central Limited Partnership, LKD Energy Corporation, Cental Gas Limited Partnership and Central Gas Corporation – that together own and operate a portion of the landfill gas collection system. According to the order, GASCO failed to properly monitor and perform tests on its collection system. It also failed to apply for a required operating permit.

"The requirements for monitoring and testing help ensure that the landfill gas collection systems are working properly," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "Without these safeguards, it is much more likely that uncontrolled landfill gas will be released into the atmosphere."

Bio-degradation of waste at the landfill creates landfill gas, which consists mainly of methane and carbon dioxide with small amounts of volatile organic compounds and other pollutants. Much of the methane collected by GASCO is used to power a nearby power plant.

Residents who live near Central Landfill, one of the largest landfills in New England, have for years complained about odors and respiratory problems caused by the landfill. Part of the landfill has been designated as a Superfund site.

EPA and the United States Department of Justice had earlier lodged a judicial Consent Decree, on December 20, 2002, with the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island for a proposed settlement of Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation's (RIRRC) liability for Clean Air Act violations at the Central Landfill. RIRRC is the owner and operator at the landfill of the waste acceptance operations and a different portion of the landfill gas collection system than the portion owned by GASCO.

Under the settlement with RIRRC, EPA anticipates extensive environmental improvements at the landfill, resulting in the capture and control of about 30,350 tons of methane (a global warming pollutant) and 215 tons of volatile organic compounds (a contributor to smog air pollution) between now and 2010. RIRRC, as part of its settlement, has already purchased or surrendered 175 tons of emissions credits – allowances to emit smog-causing pollutants – to mitigate excess emissions that resulted from violations found during the EPA investigation.