EPA Sues Owner of Louisiana’s Big Cajun II Plant

February 24, 2009

The owner of the Big Cajun II power plant in Louisiana is the target of a lawsuit filed by federal environmental regulators that alleges the generator does not have proper emissions controls.

In a suit filed in Baton Rouge federal court, the Environmental Protection Agency alleged that Louisiana Generating – a subsidiary of Princeton, N.J.-based NRG Energy Inc. – has been operating the coal-fired plant at New Roads without modern pollution control equipment following major modifications more than a decade ago.

The EPA says the equipment is needed to control emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Those are involved in the formation of fine particular matter, smog and acid rain.

NRG spokesman David Knox said the alleged violations took place during a previous ownership and the company would “vigorously defend the lawsuit.”

“This lawsuit is based on allegations by the EPA that the previous owners of the Big Cajun II plant had undertaken projects that triggered requirements for the installation of additional emission controls,” Knox said. “While we have been cooperating with the EPA since 2004 with respect to this matter, we have evaluated the allegations and believe the EPA’s claims have no merit.”

Louisiana Generating acquired the plant in 2000 from Cajun Electric Power Cooperative Inc. after Cajun underwent a lengthy federal bankruptcy reorganization. The EPA’s suit says the improvements in question were made under Cajun’s ownership.

The suit asks for heavy civil penalties – ranging between $27,500 and $37,500 per day – and a court-ordered requirement for the installation of additional environmental equipment.

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