Suit alleges W.Pa. university a polluter
The federal government sued Pennsylvania and Slippery Rock University on Wednesday over allegations the school’s coal-fired boilers violate pollution laws.
The federal government filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency and is seeking fines of $32,500 per day for each alleged violation that occurred after March 15, 2004, and $37,500 per day for each alleged violation after Jan. 12, 2009.
The lawsuit asks a judge to order that Slippery Rock be prohibited from operating the boilers unless they are in compliance with the Clean Air Act and to install emissions control technology on the boilers.
Slippery Rock spokesman Karl Schwab said he had not seen the lawsuit and that it will be referred to a state lawyer.
“The heating plants have been under review and upgraded for a number of years,” Schwab said. “We are a green university. We’re building a green student center that has a green roof with plants to help improve the environment. We were one of the first universities in the country to offer a master’s degree in sustainable systems.”
Schwab said the boilers, which use a combination of coal and natural gas, provide heat and hot water for residence halls and campus buildings.
The lawsuit states that the EPA notified the state and Slippery Rock on Jan. 22, 2009, of possible violations. The EPA contends the boilers have been violating pollution laws since at least Feb. 6, 2003.