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US: New York Sues Coal-Fired Power Plant

Environment News Service
October 13th, 2006

New York state officials announced plans Thursday to sue Rochester Gas & Electric Company for violations of clean air laws at one of the company's coal-fired power plants. New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer sent the company of notice of intent letter identifying Clean Air Act violations at its Russell Station power plant in Greece, New York. The law requires such a letter be sent at least 60 days before a suit is filed.

"The state informed RG&E over six years ago that its plant was violating the law, but the company refused to cut its air pollution," Spitzer said. "A lawsuit will ask the court to compel the company to take appropriate steps to curtail its harmful emissions."

The Russell Station, built in 1948, is one of the New York's oldest power plants. Last year, it emitted more than 1,800 tons of nitrogen oxides and 15,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, compounds linked to serious environmental damage and public health problems.

The state's lawsuit will allege that the company made major upgrades to the plant, but failed to install the necessary pollution controls as required by law.

"Projects undertaken illegally by RG&E at the Russell Station facility are resulting in the excessive emissions of air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide and New York State is committed to holding violators accountable," said Denise Sheehan, commissioner of the state's Department of Environmental Conservation. "Through the implementation of appropriate pollution control technology at power plants statewide, we will continue to reduce harmful power plant emissions and furthering Governor Pataki's record of significant air quality improvements."

The lawsuit will build on a national clean air initiative begun in 1999 - Spitzer has filed lawsuits against companies that own polluting coal-fired plants in Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Indiana and Pennsylvania. Those suits have led to reductions in harmful emissions that drift on prevailing winds and contribute to acid rain and smog in the Northeast.

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