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Coal-fired Power Plant at Fort Wainwright Issued EPA Notice of Clean Air Act Violation

Release Date: 3/10/1999
Contact Information: Rick Albright
(907) 271-5083

March 10, 1999 - - - - - - - - - - -  99-11

EPA today issued a notice of violation under the Clean Air Act to the Fort Wainwright Heating and Power Plant in Fairbanks, Alaska  ----   the largest coal-burning plant owned by the United States military in the world.  The power plant burns approximately 300 tons of coal per day in the summer and up to 1200 tons of coal per day in the winter.

"The Fort Wainwright power plant is operating with inadequate emission controls and non-functioning monitors," said Chuck Findley, EPA’s Northwest deputy regional administrator in Seattle.  "This violation threatens human health and the environment, and our goal is to require the plant to come into compliance as soon as possible."  

According to Findley, EPA gives top priority to enforcement against facilities which have significant particulate and carbon monoxide air emissions that can aggravate human respiratory and cardiovascular health problems.

The notice alleges that the Army failed to operate the plant in compliance with applicable emission standards, failed to maintain adequate emission control devices and monitoring equipment, and failed to control fugitive dust from its operations, among other violations of both state and federal standards.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) issued two notices of violation to Fort Wainwright in 1994 and 1996 for various air pollution violations.  EPA then inspected Fort Wainwright to determine whether it was complying with various environmental laws, including state and federal air pollution laws.  

During the inspection, the required opacity monitors at the plant were not operating, and records indicated that emissions from the plant had regularly violated its opacity emission limits. (Except for brief periods during start-up and emergency upset situations, smoke violates opacity limits when it obscures objects viewed through it by more than 20%.)

Prior to the EPA inspection, State of Alaska regulators attempted to negotiate a compliance order with the military, but those negotiations were unsuccessful.  Subsequent to the inspection, the facility acknowledged the need to install pollution control equipment in its air operating permit application renewal with the State, but the schedule the Army proposed in its permit application is long and cumbersome.

"EPA enforcement policy requires facilities to come into compliance as quickly as possible," said Findley.  "EPA and the State of Alaska want to see Fort Wainwright install appropriate control equipment as soon as possible to put an end to the episodes of black smoke emissions from this plant."  

Upon receiving the notice of violation, the Army has the opportunity to discuss the violations with EPA and provide the Agency with any additional information.