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EPA: Allied Waste resolves clean air act violations at its Niagara Falls landfill


Tue, Jan 9th 2024 11:35 pm

Settlement advances EPA’s national enforcement priority on mitigating climate change

EPA Press Release

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a settlement with Allied Waste Niagara Falls Landfill LLC (Allied) for violating the federal Clean Air Act at its landfill in Niagara Falls. Under the proposed settlement, Allied will pay a $671,000 penalty and operate a gas collection and control system to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals, primarily methane, as well as other harmful organic compounds, released into the air.

“Methane is a climate super pollutant that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and landfills are the third-largest sources of methane emissions in the United States,” said David M. Uhlmann, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s agreement will require Allied to control its unlawful methane emissions, and holds the company accountable for its violations of the Clean Air Act.”

“Thanks to EPA’s action, the company must operate controls to dramatically slash the climate-damaging pollutants that they are putting into our air every day,” said Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia, EPA Region 2. “These pollutants also have health impacts, so cutting these pollutants not only protects the climate, it also safeguards the health of the people living near this landfill.”

Under the consent decree, in addition to the estimated elimination of 86,000 metric tons of CO2-equivalent methane emissions, the gas collection and control system that Allied will operate and the operational changes it will implement also will prevent 32 metric tons of non-methane landfill gas emissions per year.

Methane accounts for 12% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Landfills are the third-largest source of methane in the U.S., and EPA is tackling these sources as part of its National Enforcement and Compliance Initiative dedicated to mitigating climate change. These pollutants form when organic waste in the landfill decomposes and creates landfill gas. As a result, there are federal regulations that curb the amount of methane that can be released. In addition to causing adverse climate effects, these pollutants, especially when released unlawfully, are known or suspected carcinogens, and also are known or suspected to cause damage to the kidneys, liver and central nervous system.

The settlement also includes capping the vents on parts of the landfill that have been inactive, monitoring the emissions and the gas wells, applying for updated state permits including a Title V major source permit, and keeping records of its compliance activities.

The settlement resolves Clean Air Act claims alleged in a complaint filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of EPA claiming that the company failed to timely install and operate a gas collection and control system on the active and inactive cells of the landfill, which caused excess landfill gas emissions to be released to the atmosphere. The complaint also claimed that Allied failed to obtain federal and state air permits as required by law.

The proposed consent decree, lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

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