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Energy Answers Gets a Pass From District of Columbia Court

By on March 9, 2016

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Washington D.C. dismissed a legal recourse filed by the Sierra Club questioning a permit that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted to Energy Answers for the use of an incinerator in Arecibo.

The court ruling, dated  March 4, states that the Sierra Club did not question the permit issued by the EPA itself, but the fundamental regulation that led to the EPA granting said permit. The regulation has been in place since 1980 and primarily addresses the issue of lead particles in the atmosphere, said Mark Green, vice-president of Energy Answers and manager of the Arecibo project. 

“In their decision, the Court determined that the appellants were more than three decades too late in challenging that regulation and that they failed in making their environmental claims on time,” said Green. “This decision once again reaffirms that the process followed by Energy Answers in the project’s environmental compliance has been rigorous and has stuck to the regulatory system. There is no reason to be carried away by arguments of those who only want to spread fear among the people of Arecibo.”

Previously, the EPA confirmed that not only did Energy Answers fulfill any environmental requirements, it went above and beyond in addressing people’s concerns regarding lead particles, and carried out additional studies that were not required as part of the proposal.

The company noted that a recent incident involving lead emissions and related pollution in Arecibo had to do with a battery recycling company that operated in breach of regulations. On August 19, 2015 the local Environmental Quality Board (JCA for its acronym in Spanish) revoked the construction and operation permits of that company.

According to Energy Answers, “the EPA as well as the JCA anticipate that the levels of led will return to levels below the limits of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).”

The plant proposed by Energy Answers in Arecibo will have the capacity to process some 2,100 tons of garbage a day and will produce approximately 80 megawatts of renewable alternative energy for Puerto Rico. It is also poised to create more than 4,000 direct jobs in the course of 36 months of construction. When in operation, it will create some 150 new jobs.

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