Boiler Settlement for OH Steam Plant

Friday, October 30, 2015 @ 09:10 AM gHale

A company that produces steam power for downtown buildings in Cleveland, OH, agreed to shut down six of its boilers at two inner-city plants as part of a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Cleveland Thermal needlessly allowing hundreds of tons of pollutants to flow from its plant in the Flats area, EPA officials said. As a part of the settlement, the company agreed to replace some boilers with more energy-efficient ones.

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The company also agreed to shut down three coal-fired boilers at its Canal Road plant by Jan. 31, 2017, according to the Monday settlement. It will also stop using three oil-fired boilers at its plant at Hamilton Avenue and East 18th Street on Cleveland’s near East Side by the same date.

Cleveland Thermal will then install three boilers fueled by natural gas, the settlement said. The first one must be operational by Nov. 30, while the other two will start up shortly thereafter.

The EPA reached the settlement with the city-franchised company because it said inspectors found violations with two boilers in 2010 and 2011. According to a complaint filed in the case, Cleveland Thermal modified the boilers at its Canal Road facility in 2005 and 2006, yet it did not obtain the necessary permits to do so.

The company also did not take the most environmentally-friendly steps to control for the release of pollutants sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. As a result, the pollutants died — and continue to — release into the atmosphere at a higher-than-allowed rate, according to the complaint.

In addition to replacing the boilers, estimated to cost $16 million, the company will pay a $75,000 fine and perform an environmental project worth $350,000 to offset the damage they caused to the environment, a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office states.

The settlement “will protect Cleveland residents from air pollutants that are especially harmful to children, older people and those with asthma,” said Susain Hedman, EPA area administrator for Region 5 in Chicago.

Marc Divis, Cleveland Thermal’s president, said the company has been working to convert away from coal for the past few years. He said the settlement works in part, because “we didn’t want to get into an argument when we were intending to convert into natural gas.”

Divis also said Cleveland Thermal has completed the engineering and design work for the new boilers.

The plant has produced steam to heat downtown buildings since 1894.

Cleveland Thermal also plans to add new gas-fired boilers to its Hamilton Avenue plant, which supplies chilled water for air conditioning to downtown buildings. The Corix Group, a Canadian company, purchased Cleveland Thermal earlier this year.