SEWARD — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said Wednesday that it entered into a consent order and agreement with Seward Generation LLC to resolve outstanding violations to the Air Pollution Control Act at its waste coal-fired, steam electrical generation station in East Wheatfield Township.
In the consent order dated March 31, DEP said Seward Generation LLC agreed to pay a $108,000 civil penalty, submit a plan approval application for the modification and submit detailed information about operating conditions for the preceding month, at the plant across the Conemaugh River from Seward.
According to the order, Seward has 60 days to submit to DEP “an administratively complete plan approval application that contains an analysis of the best available technology for reduction” of sulfur dioxide emissions from two circulating fluidized bed wste coal-fired boilers.
“Companies are required to install and maintain the best available technology to minimize the emissions from air pollution sources,” said John Holden, acting director of DEP’s Northwest Regional Office in Meadville, which covers Indiana County. “They are also responsible for anticipating changes to their operations to avoid violating the conditions of their permits.”
Under a contract with Seward Generation, NRG Maintenance Services LLC operates that station at 595 Plant Road, between Seward and New Florence boroughs on the Indiana County side of the Conemaugh River.
In 2004, DEP said, the plant’s original owner Reliant Energy installed state of the art equipment which reduced sulfur content by 95 percent, on a 12-month rolling average. It became part of the company’s approval to install the plant and a condition in the facility’s Title V (federal Clean Air Act) operating permit.
In April 2016, according to Indiana County real estate records, NRG Wholesale Generation LP, RRI Energy Wholesale Generation LLC, Reliant Energy Wholesale Generation LLC and Reliant Energy Seward LLC sold the plant to Seward Generation LLC for $7,425,800.
Seward Generation LLC is listed among 21 “associated companies” with Latrobe-based Robindale Energy Services Inc., a company incorporated in 2000 with its initial focus being in waste coal reclamation.
According to its website, through various affiliates the Robindale ownership team has expanded operations to include power generation, metallurgical coal and limestone mining, bulk material logistics, and brokerage/trading.
Company officials could not be reached for comment at press time.
In 2017, the DEP said, Seward Generation LLC began using waste coal that contained lower amounts of sulfur than the plant was originally designed for — and it was no longer able to reduce the content of sulfur by a permitted 95 percent.
DEP said, however, that the modification did not result in any exceedances of tons per year or pounds per hour permit limitations for sulfur or any other air pollutant.
A copy of the consent order and agreement can be found on the DEP’s website.