State grants Wheelabrator Saugus more time to provide emissions information

SAUGUS — The state Department of Environmental Protection is giving Wheelabrator Saugus more time to provide information about its emissions after hearing public comments about the issue.

MassDEP agreed to extend the timeline to review the company’s pending Nitrogen Oxide Emission Control Plan application, which is required under recently updated municipal waste combustor (MWC) regulations.

One of the amendments stated that MWCs must meet a revised average nitrogen oxide limit of 150 parts per million (ppm) in 24 hours or file for a source-specific alternative limit that does not exceed 185 ppm.

Wheelabrator asked the department for an alternative nitrogen oxide emission limit at the Saugus facility in September, citing older MWCs that could not achieve the new limit without major modifications.

“Due to the vintage (circa 1975) and physical constraints of the two existing MWC units at this facility, the revised 150 pp, NOx limit could not be achieved without major modifications of the existing Municipal Waste Combustors,” the company wrote in the September request.

“In particular, the Saugus MWC’s are a vintage European design that incorporates low profile ‘tail-end boiler’ configuration with a single pass short waterwall furnace. The older tail end design and short furnace limits the ability to install additional NOx controls that could achieve the 150 ppm limit as such, the facility is applying for approval to meet a source specific alternative limit.”

The company said it believes the Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) emission limit of 185 ppm, which was previously met on a 30-day rolling average basis, can be met on a 24-hour average basis as required by the law, according to the application.

A public hearing on the application was held in Saugus at the American Legion on Nov. 29, 2018, and opinions were collected by the state through the mail and online.

Among them was a letter from the Saugus Board of Selectmen and from State Rep. RoseLee Vincent (D-Revere), who chairs the Alliance for Health and the Environment. Both argued that the company should not be allowed a higher emission standard.

The company requested an additional 120 days to submit supplemental information based on comments received during public review of the application, according to MassDEP. The public comment period ended Jan. 28.


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