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DEC Contact: Maureen Wren (518) 402-8000

February 27, 2024


Extensive Review of Documents Finds Ash Handling Violations Spanning 2007-2013

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the completion of the agency’s extensive review of historical ash management practices at the Covanta Hempstead Resource Recovery Facility, including violations discovered during DEC’s review. Directed by Governor Kathy Hochul in response to community concerns, DEC’s review of documents from 2006 to 2014 found violations of New York State Environmental Conservation Law and the facility’s DEC permit for the handling of municipal waste combustor ash prior to disposal. 


“DEC is committed to ensuring facilities across the state fully comply with the stringent permit conditions in place to protect public health and the environment,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “DEC’s comprehensive review of the Covanta Hempstead facility’s records found significant violations of ash management requirements. While we advance actions to hold Covanta accountable, DEC continues to aggressively monitor this facility’s operations and respond to community concerns.” 


DEC’s review included Covanta Hempstead's engineering calculations, instructions to crane operators, residue/ash truck tracking log sheets, ash management plans, ash testing results, and e-mails. DEC today issued the ‘Investigative Review and Findings: Ash Management at Covanta Hempstead Resource Recovery Facility,’ outlining multiple environmental violations, particularly during the span of 2007 to 2013, for the loading of trucks with more fly ash than identified in the facility’s DEC-approved Ash Residue Management Plan (ARMP).  


Records reveal Covanta Hempstead revised its ARMP five times between 2006 and 2014. In August 2007, Covanta Hempstead changed the targeted ratio for truck loading ash and failed to notify DEC of the change until February 2008. The change of mixing ratio of bottom ash and fly ash, called “combined ash,” without authorization is a violation of the approved ARMP, as well as the facility’s Part 360 operating permit. Additionally, based on Covanta Hempstead’s records, numerous truck loads containing more fly ash than what was approved in the ARMPs was sent out for disposal. Each incident of delivering ash and not following the authorized loading ratio in the ARMP is a violation of Covanta Hempstead’s operating permit. 


DEC issued a Notice of Violation today for the unauthorized change to past ash loading practices and failure to comply with the approved ARMPs. For solid waste violations, the State Environmental Conservation Law provides a civil penalty of up to $7,500 for each violation and up to $1,500 for each day the violation continues. 


In accordance with the ARMP and New York State’s solid waste management requirements, Covanta Hempstead implemented comprehensive changes to its operations under DEC oversight in 2014, including overhauling ash handling and disposal, preventing odor and other offsite impacts, and ensuring the facility meets stringent air quality and solid waste standards. The facility is currently in compliance.


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