Agreement between N.C. DEQ, local polluter would lead to another retired power plant

In Roxboro, N.C., a proposed consent order between the state’s Department of Environmental Quality and CPI USA would put an end to an outdated and harmful pollution source.

This week, SELC attorneys submitted comments supporting a proposed consent order between the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and company CPI USA, requiring CPI to shut down its Roxboro power plant by the end of March 2021.

DEQ developed the consent order after SELC and its partners—Clean Air Carolina and the Sierra Club—objected last summer to the agency’s draft permit, which would have continued to allow the company’s serious and unlawful evasion of Clean Air Act requirements.

“Burning a toxic mix of coal, wood waste like railroad ties, and shredded tire waste, this aging plant emits as much harmful sulfur dioxide as some of the largest coal-fired plants in the state,” says Staff Attorney Leslie Griffith. “The order will put an end to an outdated and harmful pollution source, and protect the surrounding vulnerable community for the remaining months of the plant’s operation.”

Burning a toxic mix of coal, wood waste like railroad ties, and shredded tire waste, this aging plant emits as much harmful sulfur dioxide as some of the largest coal-fired plants in the state. The order will put an end to an outdated and harmful pollution source, and protect the surrounding vulnerable community for the remaining months of the plant’s operation.”

—Staff Attorney Leslie Griffith

Located in rural Person County, near Duke Energy’s Mayo and Roxboro coal-fired power plants, CPI’s facility further burdens the neighboring community, where many lower-income and people of color live.

CPI has evaded required Clean Air Act protections for more than a decade, failing to install appropriate control technology after, a 2008 retrofit that let it burn more tire-derived fuel, significantly increasing the plant’s sulfur dioxide pollution. 

“Last summer, state regulators initially proposed a permit that would have let the plant continue to avoid installing technology to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions, as the Clean Air Act requires,” says Griffith. “After SELC and its partners objected, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, the agency changed course and determined that Clean Air Act protections did apply for sulfur dioxide, and that the company had been operating without the required permit and control technology since 2008.” 

The agency began an enforcement action against CPI that culminated in the proposed consent order. 

Under the order, CPI must permanently shut down this highly polluting, coal and tire-burning plant by March 31, 2021. Until then, the plant must also meet a strengthened sulfur dioxide emission limit that requires it to operate control technology that has long been installed but not used. The company will also pay a $389,000 penalty. 

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