Dirty Plant Pledges $1.1B Cleanup

AP Image Ingested via Automated Feed
A coal-fueled power plant in Ohio agreed to make improvements that would drastically cut pollution from its smokestacks, under a settlement with the federal government and three Northeast states announced Friday.

Ohio Edison will spend $1.1 billion to cut emissions by at least 70 percent at the W.H. Sammis plant in Stratton, Ohio, federal officials said. The utility, an operating company of FirstEnergy, was found in violation of the Clean Air Act in 2003, and the settlement comes before a second trial that was to determine how much it would pay.

More than 200,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide — emissions blamed for acid rain — will be reduced annually under the agreement, making it one of the largest reductions in emissions of any federal action.

One of the Stratton plant's smokestacks is 1,000 feet tall, nearly as high as the Chrysler Building in New York City. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer of New York said the purpose of such tall smokestacks was to send pollution eastward.

Connecticut and New Jersey also were part of the settlement.

New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey said the settlement "is a powerful affirmation that corporate polluters cannot defy the law and profit at the expense of the environment and the health of our residents."

The settlement builds on the progress FirstEnergy believes it is making in protecting the environment, said Anthony Alexander, president and chief executive.

FirstEnergy said most of the expenditures called for in the settlement will be made from 2008 to 2010.

Under the settlement, the utility will pay $8.5 million to the federal government and $10 million over five years on clear air and alternative energy projects in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. It will also install pollution controls at other plants.