The South Dakota Department of Energy has suspended construction on a $100 million power plant that the Department of Environmental Quality had ordered to be shut down because of a risk of a chemical release.
The State Department had warned the utility, Dakota Electric Power Co., last month that a release of benzene, a carcinogen, could cause health problems for workers and the public.
The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection said last week it was suspending the project pending further investigation.
The project, to be constructed by a subsidiary of the Dakota Electric Company, was to be completed in 2019.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said in a statement Tuesday that the department has suspended the project “in order to conduct a thorough and independent review of the circumstances surrounding the project and the safety of workers and residents.”
Dakota Electric has said it has done all it could to avoid a release, but the company has acknowledged there is a risk it will.
The state Department of Health and Human Services said in September that benzene released into the air from the plant could be hazardous.
The state Department for Health and Environmental Control issued a safety advisory last week urging people to stay indoors and close windows and doors when working with or under the influence of benzens.
The department said benzene is known to cause a range of health effects.
It also said people who breathe it into their lungs should avoid prolonged exposure.
Dakotas state environmental department has said that a chemical released from the Dakota Power Plant on Sept. 19, 2017, could be harmful.