AES prevails in lawsuit against use of Agremax in Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN – Applied Energy Systems (AES) expressed satisfaction over the Jan. 12 Court of Appeals decision that reaffirmed the right of the company, as well as Peñuelas Valley Landfill and EC Waste, to use Agremax daily as landfill cover, as well as to solidify nonhazardous liquid waste, as had been previously authorized by the Environmental Quality Board (EQB).
The decision confirms a ruling from the Court of First Instance. The Appeals Court validates that such landfills can dispose of Agremax, a partially solidified mixture of coal combustion fly ash and bottom ash also used for structural fill and road bases.
“This recent ruling confirms our allegations and, therefore, the fulfillment of our operation under the regulations of the EQB, the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] and the Act to Ban the Deposit & Disposal of Coal Ash or Coal Combustion Residuals in Puerto Rico [Act 40-2017] regarding the beneficial use of Agremax,” said AES President Manuel Mata in a written statement.
“Puerto Rico needs all its available resources. With the serious problem of waste disposal, Agremax is the best alternative amid the [destruction] suffered by…our mountains [to extract fill material] to cover the immense amount of waste material that is deposited in these landfills,” Mata added.
He further explained that in July, the Court of First Instance in Ponce dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Comité Pro Salud, Desarrollo y Ambiente de Tallaboa (Tallaboa Pro-Health, Development & Environment Committee) against AES, the EQB, EC Waste and Peñuelas Valley Landfill, and dismissed a request for provisional and permanent interdiction.
However, in August, the plaintiffs submitted a second urgent motion that was also dismissed in light of legislation and statements by pertinent agencies, in which both the EQB and the EPA maintained that the ash resulting from the combustion of coal and the manufactured aggregate Agremax are not dangerous.
In its grounds for denying the appeal, the court held that Act 40-2017 prevents the deposit of fly ash, bottom ash, flue gas desulfurization material (synthetic gypsum) and boiler residue, but does not prohibit the use or disposal of Agremax.
In addition, the Court of Appeals noted that article 3 of the law maintains that the list of exclusions does not extend to those instances in which coal combustion residue is used for beneficial commercial uses.
The Court of Appeals decision concurs with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, which confirmed that the ash resulting from the combustion of coal, as well as Agremax, are neither hazardous nor toxic and can be used or disposed of at El Coquí Landfill in Humacao, the Peñuelas Valley Landfill and at other locations authorized by the EQB, the company stressed.