Bloom confirms $1.16 million fine from EPA for not filling out hazardous waste shipment manifests

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Boom fuel cells at the Red Lion site in New Castle County.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued an order requiring fuel cell maker Bloom Energy to pay a $1.16 million fine fine for not filling out required paperwork for shipments of hazardous waste.

A letter, dated Dec. 15, 2020 from the regional office of the EPA said the fuel cell maker with its main plant in Newark agreed to the penalties for hundreds of hazardous waste shipments.

According to the letter, Bloom did not first prepare a hazardous waste manifest, during a period extending from 2015 through the end of 2019.

Listed as shipments without the manifest are the following:

  • 33 shipments of hazardous waste to a permitted receiving facility, from September 8, 2015 to October 3, 2016
  • 225 shipments of hazardous waste sent to a non- permitted receiving facility, from September 8, 2015 to October 3, 2016
  • 105 shipments of hazardous waste sent without a hazardous waste manifest to a permitted receiving facility, after October 3, 2016.

The EPA is seeking payment within 30 days of receipt.

Bloom’s non-combustion process that produces electricity from fuel cells generates hazardous waste, with the company’s many critics claiming the materials dilute the environmental benefits of the technology. Bloom fuel cells are typically powered by natural gas.

Bloom has arrays of fuel cells at two sites in New Castle County that feed power into the Delmarva Power grid under a long-term agreement approved by the Delaware General Assembly.

Bloom Energy issued the following statement:

Bloom is committed to compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations including health and safety standards, and we continually review the operation of our Energy Servers (fuel cells) for health, safety, and environmental compliance.

As previously disclosed, Bloom Energy has been in ongoing discussions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding a federal environmental exemption the company operated under from 2010 to late 2016. Bloom believes we have always complied with the EPA’s requirement to handle the material collected from our desulfurization units appropriately in light of the characteristics of the units and we are disappointed the EPA has sought to penalize us for use of this exemption prior to the time it issued guidance.

In the first quarter ended March 31, 2020, the company accrued an estimate of the expenses it reasonably anticipated would be paid upon resolution of the matter. Consistent with that estimate and the resolution approved the by the Environmental Appeals Board, a final payment was made in the fourth quarter of 2020 and EPA has since confirmed that the matter is formally resolved. As a result, Bloom doesnot anticipate an impact on our operations or significant additional costs or risks fromcompliance with the revised 2016 guidance. The company ispleased to have this situation resolved and will continue to focus on running our business.”

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