Connecticut Attorney General's Office

Press Release

Attorney General Sues Power Plant For Repeated Air Emissions Violations

August 18, 2010

         Attorney General Richard Blumenthal filed a lawsuit today against Covanta Energy of Wallingford for emitting excessive levels of the chemical dioxin, a probable carcinogen, at its trash-to-energy plant -- its second violation in the past three years.

Blumenthal sued on behalf of Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Amey Marrella.

“Our legal action follows a repeat environmental violation -- excessive emissions of toxic dioxin,” Blumenthal said. “Even following a settlement less than one year ago for a similar violation, Covanta again spewed unpermitted levels of dioxin into the air. While the company has cooperated by shutting down its faulty unit, my office must take action to ensure that future violations are prevented.”

Marrella said, “The DEP is especially concerned over this violation of Covanta's permitted emissions limits because this is the second occurrence over a short period of time. By referring the matter to the Attorney General, Connecticut is sending a clear message that violating the state's environmental laws will not be tolerated.”

The DEP issued Covanta a Notice of Violation on July 29 after testing at the company’s Wallingford facility revealed it was emitting dioxin more than two times greater than permitted levels from one of its units. That particular unit has been shut down since July 2.

The Department of Public Health (DPH) and DEP have reviewed and analyzed the ambient concentrations of dioxin associated with the violations and determined that the amount of dioxin in the ambient air did not exceed health standards.

The company has notified DEP that the emissions were due to a malfunction of their dioxin emissions control system in April. The company claims that it has repaired the system and plans to implement additional measures to prevent future emissions violations.

In November 2009, Covanta agreed to pay a $355,000 settlement to the DEP for similar unpermitted dioxin emissions.

View the entire Covanta complaint - (PDF-7MB)