Russell Biomass secures final Clean Water Act permit from EPA for proposed US$150M wood-fired power plant in Russell, Massachusetts

BOSTON , April 19, 2012 (press release) – EPA has issued a final Clean Water Act permit for the proposed Russell Biomass power plant in Russell, Mass. After a rigorous, science-based review, EPA has concluded that the final National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for the proposed facility meets the requirements of the Federal Clean Water Act.

The facility is proposed to be built adjacent to the Westfield River, and to withdraw water from and discharge water back into the Westfield River. The final permit contains stringent protections including limiting the facility’s discharge of heat and other effluents to the water, and monitoring requirements to ensure the protection of aquatic organisms and habitat quality in the river.

The permit also ensures that the entrainment and impingement of fish and other river organisms is minimized with the requirement to use closed cycle cooling towers, which was determined to be the best technology available for controlling the adverse effects of cooling water withdrawal at Russell Biomass.

The permit was first proposed in 2009 and underwent a formal public review and comment period. Following EPA’s careful review of comments submitted on the proposal, EPA revised and strengthened various protections for the river, including: imposing monthly monitoring of aluminum levels; added an “average monthly rise” phosphorus limit, which allows no detectable difference between the intake and discharge mass of phosphorus; and quarterly turbidity monitoring requirements for the stormwater outfall locations as well as a location upstream.

The permit becomes effective on July 1, 2012. If information becomes available to EPA which indicates that new or more stringent permit limits are needed to meet water quality standards, the permit may be modified.

More information: The final Russell Biomass plant NPDES permit and other documents (http://www.epa.gov/region1/npdes/permits/2012/finalma0040371permit.pdf

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