It’s the company’s second consent order reached with the city of Erie since May.
The same day that negotiations between Erie Coke Corp. and state regulators fell apart last week, the company reached an agreement with the city of Erie to pay a $200,000 penalty for mishandling wastewater as recently as June.
The consent order is the second the city has reached with Erie Coke over wastewater treatment at the coke plant since May. The violations listed in the new consent order occurred between December and June.
Erie Coke must pay the city a total of $191,077, according to the order, although as much as $96,000 of that sum will be credited to Erie Coke if the company uses the money to fix its wastewater equipment.
The order states that Erie Coke violated its “daily maximum allowable discharge limit” for ammonia on 13 dates between December and June and for naphthalene on eight dates in the same period.
The violations are nearly identical to those that led Erie Coke to agree to a $118,598 civil penalty in another consent order with the city in May. Those violations occurred between December 2017 and August 2018.
Officials with Erie’s Bureau of Sewers said of the last consent order that the violations did not present a health concern. The city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant treats the water from Erie Coke, which travels through the city’s sanitary system, before releasing the water into Lake Erie, the officials said.
Erie Coke Environmental Director Ed Nesselbeck said continued wastewater violations were not surprising because of the degraded condition of Erie Coke’s pretreatment plant. The company is working on major repairs to the pretreatment facility, he said.
“We’re in touch with the city virtually on a daily basis on what we’re doing,” Nesselbeck said. “As part of that consent order, we’ve agreed to keep them updated on a regular basis on all the new parts we’re buying and new processes and new monitoring equipment that we’re putting in.”
Nesselbeck and Basil Ronzitti, chief of the Erie’s Bureau of Sewers, signed the new consent order on Aug. 23.
On the same day, Erie Coke’s lawyers were meeting with representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in a 5-hour settlement conference at Erie’s Renaissance Centre to see if the two sides could come to an agreement in their ongoing legal dispute.
The DEP on July 1 announced it would not renew Erie Coke’s Title V operating permit, which the plant needs to continue operating, because of environmental violations. Erie Coke immediately appealed and asked Environmental Hearing Board Judge Steven C. Beckman to intervene so the plant could stay open while the appeal is pending.
The Aug. 23 settlement talks ended without an agreement, and on Wednesday, Beckman ruled that Erie Coke can remain open for now as long as it follows certain conditions and limits its operations.
Beckman will hear Erie Coke’s appeal at a hearing on Feb. 3. The DEP is also seeking an injunction in Erie County Court to shutter the plant.