Postal Service penalized by MPCA for air quality violations in Eagan
The U.S. Postal Service has reached an agreement with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency after air quality violations were discovered three years ago at the Postal Service’s regional management support center in Eagan.
Under the agreement made Oct. 12, the Postal Service will pay $13,000 to the MPCA and has to take corrective actions, including submitting Emissions Inventory Reports and apply for proper air quality permits.
According to the MPCA, the Postal Service’s Eagan facility did not obtain proper air quality permits before it installed and operated a number of boilers and diesel-fueled generators at the site, which is located at 2825 Lone Oak Pkwy.
The violations resulted in a potential increase in emissions of several regulated air pollutants, including particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. These pollutants can cause respiratory irritation in humans and would add to the overall air pollution in the area, according to the MPCA.
The MPCA discovered the violation in 2009, when the Postal Service applied for an air quality permit covering on-site generators and gas-fired boilers used to heat the facility. The application stated the permit would be the facility’s first air quality permit. The MPCA asked for more information and found that 14 gas-fired boilers and seven diesel-fueled generators had been installed at the facility between 1998 and 2004.
Instead of using the generators only for traditional backup electrical generation, the facility entered into a service agreement with Northern States Power Co. (now Xcel Energy) to use them for “peak shaving,” in which on-site generators are used to offset electrical demands at times of peak usage.
As a result, the generators could potentially operate more frequently and, therefore, have potential emissions that require a permit.
The facility used the five original generators for peak shaving from 1998 to 2003, and all seven generators were used for peak shaving from 2004 to 2009, according to the MPCA. The facility didn’t renew its agreement with Xcel and is no longer using its generators for peak shaving, but rather as standby generators for traditional emergency use.
The MPCA’s investigation found that required Emission Inventory Reports had not been submitted from 1998 to 2007.
Representatives from the U.S. Postal Service declined to comment.
Editor’s Note: An original version of this post featured a photo depicting the incorrect Postal Service facility. Sun Thisweek regrets the error.