VINELAND — City Council on Tuesday authorized an $850,000 settlement with the federal government for pollution violations at the municipal electric company.
The payment is part of an agreement reached after what city officials said were years of negotiations with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
City Council authorized the agreement by a vote of 4-0. Mayor Robert Romano said he will sign off on the agreement.
The pollution violations occurred at the Vineland Municipal Electric Utility between 2004 and 2008.
VMEU officials said the utility was cited for emission violations involving substances such as carbon monoxide and smoke and that the amount of emissions was very small.
City Municipal Utilities Director Joseph Isabella said the problems were linked to three old and “environmentally stressed” boilers. Two of those boilers have been retired, and the third boiler is no longer fueled by coal, the quality of which caused some of the problems, he said.
VMEU is currently installing two natural gas-fired turbines as part of the agreement. VMEU officials called the system the “cleanest, most efficient generation technology available.”
City officials announced the settlement on March 1.
The following day, EPA spokesman Elies Rodriquez said that no agreement between the agency and city exists and that both sides remain in discussions about a settlement. Rodriquez said he couldn’t comment further.
Isabella said a settlement exists. He said there is a disparity because the EPA can’t begin to finalize the agreement until it is approved by City Council and Romano. That means the EPA technically contends that no agreement exists, he said.
In other action Tuesday, City Council voted 4-0 to people playing paintball in municipal parks.
City Council took the action after parts of South Vineland Park sustained paint-related damage several months ago. Paintball players said they weren’t to blame for the problem.
The ordinance, approved after City Council held a public hearing during which no residents made any statements, adds paintball guns to a list of other banned recreational weapons, such as a javelins and bows and arrows.
Anyone violating the regulations would face a fine of as much as $1,000. County jail time or community service also may be imposed.
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