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fact sheet to go with r-68

Release Date: 5/22/96
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fact sheet to go with r-68





The Mt. Zirkel Wilderness Area is a Class I wilderness area. The Clean Air Act provides for special protection of these areas to keep the air quality from degrading. The Mt. Zirkel wilderness area is one of Colorado's most spectacular areas. It spans the continental divide and receives the highest levels of annual precipitation in the State. Some of the most sensitive high elevation ecosystems in the Rocky Mountains are found in the Mt. Zirkel wilderness area.

The Public Service Company of Colorado was sued by the Sierra Club in 1993 for 19,727 violations of the opacity provisions of the Clean Air Act at its Hayden Station, located in Hayden, in northwestern Colorado. The federal government and the State of Colorado intervened in the action in 1996, alleging additional violations of these provisions that are designed to prevent excess visible air pollution emissions from the smokestacks.


The complaint alleges that PSC's Hayden Station exceeded CAA regulations limiting opacity between 1988 and 1995. It also alleges that PSC failed to follow "good pollution control practices to minimize emissions" at this plant.


Injunctive Relief: The company is required to construct and operate new, state of the art, pollution control equipment which will make Hayden Station one of the cleanest coal burning plants in the region. This upgrade will cost PSC approximately $140 million, and will control emissions at least 5 years earler than the regulatory process would have taken. Baghouses will be installed to reduce particulate matter ($75 million), lime spray dryer technolgy will be installed to reduce SO2 emissions ($55 million), and the most advanced overfire air and low NOx burner technolgy will be installed to reduce NOx emissions ($10 million).

Environmental Projects: The company will pay a sum of $2.25 million to be used for environmentally beneficial projects in the Yampa Valley. These projects include $2 million for the purchase of land in the Valley to prevent development in sensitive areas, and a $250,000 project to convert diesel or gasoline vehicles or woodburning stoves to natural gas.

Penalty: PSC will pay a civil penalty of $2 million.


The pollution control equipment will remove 8512f the sulfur in the coal burned; reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 50and; require the installation of "baghouses" to remove over 9912f the particulate emissions at the plant. Altogether, these controls will eliminate about 14,000 tons per year of sulfur dioxide and 7,000 tons per year of nitrogen oxide.

Through modeling and actual measurements, EPA has confirmed that emissions from Hayden Station are transported to the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness area. This is especially true for sulfur dioxide and sulfates from the power plant. These pollutants are significant contributors to visibility impairment and acid deposition. In reducing these pollutants by some 14,000 tons per year, the risks to the wilderness area will be substantially reduced. With these reductions, we expect the frequency and magnitude of visibility impairment to decrease significantly and for acid deposition levels to decrease significantly over time.