EPA Fines Yuba City Power Plant $13,500 Following Illegal Arsenic Release

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined Calpine Corporation, owner of a 500-megawatt natural-gas fired power plant, $13,500 for the improper management of hazardous waste at its Yuba City, Calif. facility.

A July 2009 inspection by EPA at the Sutter Energy Center, a subsidiary of Calpine, discovered a violation of federal requirements pertaining to the management of hazardous waste. In this case, the facility generated arsenic from the treatment of wastewater and failed to minimize releases of hazardous waste to the environment. Arsenic occurs naturally in the local groundwater, which is used in the plant’s operations.

Under the EPA Resource Conservation and Recovery Act program, hazardous substances must be stored, handled and disposed of using measures that safeguard public health and the environment. Sutter Energy Center’s actions allowed federally regulated levels of arsenic to be released to the environment, potentially exposing its workers to hazardous waste.

Sutter Energy Center has put in place cost-effective engineering controls to minimize further releases of arsenic. The facility implemented initial correction measures immediately after the inspection, and a year later installed a more permanent barrier to confine the arsenic. Together, these controls provide worker safety from arsenic exposure.