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RI Department of Environmental Management
DEM DENIES OCEAN STATE POWER'S REQUEST FOR PERMIT MODIFICATION
PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management has denied Ocean State Power's (OSP) request to modify its current air permit to allow discretionary burning of fuel oil at its Burrillville facility. The decision to deny the permit modification was based upon DEM's review of OSP's application and consideration of public comments the Department received concerning the application.
OSP's current permit allows the facility to burn a limited amount of fuel oil in order to maintain oil system readiness, and as a backup source when natural gas is unavailable. Discretionary burning of fuel oil is not allowed.
OSP had asked DEM to utilize a less stringent section of EPA regulations, instead of DEM's air pollution control regulations, to approve its application. Approving OSP's application under these standards would have resulted in a lower level of emissions control. In addition, approval of OSP's application would not have resulted in required offsets of emissions. These emission offsets must compensate for the emissions increases and provide a net air quality benefit.
Nitrogen oxides are precursors to ground level ozone. High ozone concentrations can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, headache and fatigue. It is DEM's practice to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions to the greatest extent practical. The Department, through its actions and policies, has been sending a clear and consistent message to the general public and the regulated community that emissions of nitrogen oxide will be reduced and minimized to the maximum extent practical from existing, new, and modified sources. Allowing an increase in nitrogen oxide emissions above and beyond what would ordinarily be allowed under DEM's rules is inconsistent with other recent actions of the Department, aimed at improving air quality. These actions included implementing a motor vehicle inspection/maintenance program and intervening in an EPA suit to enforce federal permit requirements at certain power plants in other regions of the country.
DEM received public comment from the Town of North Smithfield and several individuals concerning OSP's permit request. The municipality and local residents cited concerns about increased noise levels from the plant, health issues resulting from increased emissions, the need for safety measures to control traffic and spills, increased water usage and depletion of water supplies, increased risk of explosions at the plant, and impacts on water quality and the environment.