ALBANY, NY , Sept. 30, 2021 (Press Release) -New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the execution of an Order on Consent with Cascades Containerboard Packaging, Inc., in Niagara Falls, that includes a $375,000 penalty and requires Cascades to undertake improvements to protect the community's health and quality of life. Millions of dollars in new equipment upgrades and other DEC requirements will help ensure Cascades complies with the laws and regulations in place to protect air and water quality in the region.
"DEC took swift action to hold Cascades Containerboard accountable for intolerable odors that adversely impacted the health and outdoor enjoyment of the surrounding neighborhood, particularly during the summer months," Commissioner Seggos said. "DEC's Consent Order builds upon our comprehensive investigation to find and address the cause of Cascades' violations and brings the facility into full compliance for the protection of the Niagara Falls community and the region's natural resources."
DEC's investigation this year revealed Cascades, a cardboard manufacturer, violated the State's air and water quality laws and regulations governing operations at its 4001 Packard Road facility. Violations included: emitting noxious odors to the surrounding neighborhood; failing to properly operate and maintain the anaerobic digester and two activated sludge reactors; operating unpermitted air pollution emissions sources within the facility's wastewater treatment plant and sludge processing and handling systems; failure to report equipment malfunctions; and releasing hydrogen sulfide (H2S) emissions that exceeded the allowable ambient H2S concentrations off-site.
This enforcement action requires Cascades to pay a civil penalty of $375,000 with additional penalties if the facility fails to comply with the terms of the Consent Order. In addition, upon completion of the work required under the Order, Cascades has spent an estimated $2 million to modify and upgrade operations to prevent a recurrence of its violations.
In all, 19 action items, many of which have been completed or are ongoing, are required under the terms of the Consent Order to bring Cascades into full compliance, including:
- Conducting comprehensive air sampling to evaluate additional potential sources of odorous emissions;
- Continued monitoring fence-line hydrogen sulfide emissions and immediate mitigation when levels are exceeded;
- Submitting plans to replace temporary covers with permanent covers on sludge reactors, tanks, and other emission sources, as well as managing secondary sludge to mitigate potential odors;
- Evaluating operations to find and report any unpermitted emission sources and adding them to its Air State Facility permit application;
- Evaluating wastewater treatment and identifying improvements and implementation plans to ensure the system's stability; and
- Maintaining a complaint hotline for the public to report complaints; submitting weekly progress reports to DEC summarizing complaints and planned corrective actions.
Additional terms required by the Consent Order supplement operational modifications that Cascades already performed over the past several months at DEC's direction. DEC directed Cascades to adhere to a strict compliance schedule, establish and maintain a 24-hour odor complaint hotline (1-833-461-8898) and email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for public use, and submit bi-weekly progress reports to DEC. Despite initial measures undertaken by Cascades, verified odor complaints continued to be received from the community throughout the summer, culminating in today's Order on Consent.
DEC will require strict adherence to the schedule of compliance under the Order and continue air quality monitoring to assess all potential impacts from Cascades' facility while required work is completed. DEC continues to encourage the public to submit any comments or complaints regarding Cascades operations to DEC at email@example.com.