State Wins Emergency Court Order To Force Owners
to Secure Former Power Plant in New Haven
Attorney General George Jepsen and state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel Esty were granted an emergency court order today requiring around-the-clock security at the heavily contaminated former English Station power plant in New Haven.
The property, which contains the former electric generating plant and a warehouse, is now owned by Asnat Realty, LLC of Bayside, N.Y., and Evergreen Power, LLC, of Willmington, MD. The plant is shut down and the property closed pending submission of a remediation plan to clean up extensive contamination by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a known carcinogen, heavy metals and other contaminants.
A cease- and-desist order issued by DEEP against the owners in February, 2012, required the buildings and grounds of 510 Grand Avenue in New Haven to be secured and access strictly limited to individuals involved in investigation and remediation activities. In its complaint today, the state alleged the owners have not done enough to keep unauthorized people out.
Although the property is fenced and the facility locked, trespassers and vandals continue to gain access, contaminating themselves, others and the environment by removing metal piping and other materials. The latest breach occurred Wednesday night, requiring emergency decontamination by DEEP personnel of a New Haven police van and other equipment.
“This is a known hazard and we cannot allow this situation to continue. The owners’ failure to comply with the order has caused unacceptable exposure to the City’s and to the state’s emergency responders, to the environment and to the trespassers and others with whom they come into contact. We are seeking the court’s help to protect public health and safety from this negligence,” said Attorney General Jepsen.
Commissioner Esty said, “Stepped up security is needed at English Station – right now – to prevent people from being exposed to health risks. Materials taken from English Station may contain PCB contamination and as a result scrap dealers should be very wary of accepting metals that could have come from this site.”
The request for the ex parte injunction, filed in Hartford Superior Court today, was granted. A hearing is scheduled Jan. 7, 2013.
Jepsen and Esty also asked the court to charge the property owners for expenses incurred by government agencies to detect, investigate, control and abate the toxic chemicals spread as a result of the owners’ failure to comply with the earlier cease and desist order.
The DEEP issued the cease and desist order to block demolition of the plant. Until the site is decontaminated, the agency said, demolition would create a significant risk of spreading toxic chemicals and pose an imminent threat of harm to public health and the environment.
DEEP said that before any demolition, the owners must first make full investigation of the contamination in and around the buildings, submit a remediation plan for approval, decontaminate the site in full compliance with federal and state laws and regulations and outline steps they would take to prevent adverse environmental impacts from any planned demolition.
Assistant Attorneys General Matthew Levine, Sharon Seligman and Kimberly Massicotte, head of the Environment department are assisting the Attorney General with this matter, with Associate Attorney General Joseph Rubin.