Home > Uncategorized > Murphy DEP Issues Another Permit To A Major Air Polluter – No Limits On Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Murphy DEP Issues Another Permit To A Major Air Polluter – No Limits On Greenhouse Gas Emissions

McWane Phillipsburg Foundry Continues To Spew Toxic Mercury

DEP Lax Oversight Of Criminal Corporation

The Murphy DEP just renewed the air pollution permit for the notorious environmental criminal corporation McWane for their Atlantic States foundry in Phillipsburg, on the Delaware River.

The permit has fatal flaws, including: 1) failing to impose any limits on greenhouse gas emissions; 2) allowing the foundry to continue to emit significant amounts of highly toxic mercury 3) relying on certifications of company officials; and 4) relying on lax pollution monitoring.

The McWane corporation previously pled guilty to felony environmental crimes prosecuted by the US EPA. (see: EPA Summary of Criminal Prosecutions)

I wrote about crimes at their NJ facility back in 2009 (sorry, photos were deleted by the Star Ledger)

McWane’s environmental and labor crimes were the subject of an investigative documentary expose by PBS Frontline “A Dangerous Business”.

Brad Campbell, Commissioner of the McGreevey /Codey DEP cut a deal with McWane that allowed the company to continue to pollute: (Frontline)

In May 2005, McWane and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) announced an agreement under which to avoid fines for emission violations in 2003, the company would invest $9.3 million in upgrades to reduce mercury and other hazardous emissions from its Atlantic States foundry in Phillipsburg, N.J. NJDEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell told The Morning Call (Allentown, Penn.) that the deal was beneficial to the state because the foundry, which agreed to reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent by January 2006, was already in compliance with current regulations. According to McWane, Atlantic States would become the first North American foundry to use state-of-the-art technology to “substantially limit” mercury emissions.

Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin that bioaccumulates in fish – worse than lead – and is particularly a threat to the health and development of babies, including pregnant women and nursing mothers. NJ has a statewide serious mercury contamination problem that has resulted in DEP statewide fish consumption advisories.

Yet despite NJ’s serious mercury problem, the Murphy DEP permit allows McWane to continue to emit 21 pounds/year of toxic mercury, which deposits locally to NJ state waters, including the Delaware River, and bioaccumulates in fish that subsequently poison people and wildlife.

In addition to unacceptable toxic mercury emissions, according to DEP:

The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from this facility are 570,000 TPY CO2e.

That’s another half a million tons of unregulated GHG emissions, in addition to recent other DEP permits that allow over 6 million tons of unregulated greenhouse gas emissions (see this and this).

Despite McWane’s egregious criminal history, DEP relied on certifications of  McWane officials and provided the company a “permit shield”:

The Responsible Official at the facility has certified that the facility currently meets all applicable requirements of the Federal Clean Air Act and the New Jersey Air Pollution Control Act. Based on this certification, the Department’s evaluation of the information included in the facility’s application, and a review of the facility’s compliance status, the Department has concluded that this air pollution control operating permit should be approved. […]

This operating permit also includes a permit shield, pursuant to the provisions of N.J.A.C. 7:27-22.17. A permit shield provides that compliance with the relevant conditions of the operating permit shall be deemed compliance with the specific applicable requirements that are in effect on the date of issuance of the draft operating permit, and which form the basis for the conditions in the operating permit.

Despite the company’s criminal history and failure to comply with environmental laws, DEP imposed no special conditions to strictly monitor compliance and instead the permit provides lax and unenforceable pollution monitoring requirements, which do not actually measure the actual pollution emitted by the facility:

  1. Where the applicable requirement does not require direct periodic monitoring of emissions, the Department requires periodic monitoring of surrogate parameters sufficient to yield reliable data from the relevant time period that are representative of the facility’s compliance with the permit.

The foundry emits significant amounts of toxic hazardous air pollutants:

The facility is classified as a major facility based on its potential to emit 102 tons per year (tpy) of volatile organic compounds, 115 tpy of carbon monoxide and 108 tpy of nitrogen oxide.

This permit allows individual hazardous air pollutant to be emitted at a rate to not exceed: 0.57 pounds per year (lb/yr) of arsenic, 7.11 lb/yr of cadmium, 8.09 lb/yr of chromium, 111.38 lb/yr of lead, 89.37 lb/yr of manganese, 21 lb/yr of mercury and 8.84 lb/yr of nickel.

Despite significant toxic “hazardous air pollutant” emissions in close proximity to dense residential development and schools, DEP once again found no unacceptable health risks:

A Facility-Wide Risk Assessment was conducted as part of the review of this permit application and health risk was determined to be acceptable to the Department consistent with NJDEP Technical Manual 1003.

So, let’s recap the meaning of this permit:

1) The DEP is a toothless tiger.

2) There are massive loopholes in DEP regulations.

3) The NJ DEP Technical Manual used to assess health risk is seriously flawed.

4) McWane’s historic mercury emissions have injured natural resources by poisoning fish and wildlife with toxic mercury. They should be held responsible and required to compensate the public for extensive Natural Resource Damages (NRD). US Fish and Wildlife Service and NJ DEP have adequate science and clear legal authority to file NRD lawsuits to require compensation.

5) There is virtually no public awareness or participation in major DEP permit and regulatory decisions that impact public health and the environment.

The Murphy DEP has no appetite to reform or strengthen any of these fatal flaws. They are as bad as the Christie DEP.

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