Indiana University Bloomington has agreed to pay $9,600 for violating its main heating plant permit by failing to submit performance testing results to the state for two years.
Last August, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management found that the university failed to submit the results of a January 2020 performance test of its coal-fired Central Heating Plant boilers until January 2022.
Under state and federal law, the university should have submitted those results by March 2020 and conducted another performance test within 13 months. According to IDEM, the school did neither, resulting in a violation of Indiana Code, the Clean Air Act and its Part 70 Operating Permit.
Performance tests, also known as stack tests, are used to determine the amount of pollution emitted by the unit being tested. A lack of performance testing results impedes regulatory agencies’ knowledge of overall pollution in the state, so both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and IDEM consider it a high priority violation whose impact would pose a significant risk to human health and the environment.
IDEM initially wanted the university to pay a $12,000 civil penalty, but that amount was later reduced to $9,600.
Indiana University has not yet responded to a request for a comment on the reason for the submittal failure, but it is unlikely pandemic staffing issues played a role, as stay-at-home staffing measures began months after the testing results were dues.
Indiana University Bloomington suspended in-person instruction and limited staff allowed on campus after Gov. Eric Holcomb issued an executive order directing Hoosiers to stay at home in late March 2020, months after the performance test results were performed.
The school received a Gold rating from the international Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System in 2020 for its sustainability performance, but received a 1.53 score out of 8 for its greenhouse gas emissions.
The Indiana University Board of Trustees recently approved a 10-year capital plan for the campus that includes a new central heating plant.