By Dave Pearce
Posey County’s largest employer agreed this week to clean up their act just a bit.
SABIC Innovative Plastics US LLC, and its subsidiary, SABIC Innovative Plastics Mount Vernon LLC, have agreed to pay an approximately $1 million civil penalty and improve leak detection and repair practices to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) at chemical manufacturing facilities in Mount Vernon, Ind., and Burkville, Ala., the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this week.
SABIC employs around 1500 at the Mount Vernon facility alone.
“Protecting the environment and preserving our natural resources are important to the communities in which we operate and important to SABIC,” said Shelia Naab of the local SABIC site. “One hundred percent compliance is our goal with all applicable state and federal regulations and, where possible, we strive to go beyond regulatory compliance to achieve safety and environmental excellence for our employees and community.”
Representatives of SABIC Innovative Plastics US LLC, and its subsidiary, SABIC Innovative Plastics Mount Vernon, LLC, signed a consent decree that requires the company to pay a civil penalty totaling $1,012,873 and spend $5.3 million more for equipment upgrades.
Emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from leaking equipment may cause serious health effects including cancer, reproductive issues and birth defects.
This compliance program continues our efforts to control fugitive emissions and will require SABIC to upgrade its monitoring and maintenance practices to help prevent future violations, said Robert G. Dreher, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice.
“We continuously strive to minimize our impact on the environment and implement projects to incorporate environmentally-friendly programs. Several of the manufacturing sites in the US were the subject of routine compliance audits initiated by the EPA in 2005,” Naab said. “The EPA inspections broadly evaluated environmental compliance status, which was found to be very good in most areas. However, they revealed concerns in air compliance programs at two of the sites that we acquired in 2007. The company immediately began to address the concerns following the inspections and, in addition, implemented further programs to ensure full compliance going forward.”
Communities near large industrial facilities depend on EPA to protect public health and the environment by enforcing our nations environmental laws, said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPAs Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. Today’s settlement with SABIC will reduce the potential for future violations and protect residents in Indiana and Alabama from emissions of hazardous air pollutants.
In addition to paying a penalty, SABIC will implement a comprehensive program to reduce emissions of HAPs from leaking equipment such as valves and pumps. The emissions, known as fugitive emissions because they are not discharged from a stack but rather leak directly from equipment, are generally controlled through work practices, like monitoring and repairing leaks. The settlement requires SABIC to implement enhanced work practices, including more frequent leak monitoring, better repair practices, and innovative new efforts designed to prevent leaks.
The program also requires SABIC to replace valves with new low emissions valves or valve packing material, designed to significantly reduce the likelihood of future leaks of HAPs. In response to EPAs inspection of the Mount Vernon facility, SABIC engineered HAP emission controls for hundreds of drains and trenches and the settlement further requires SABIC to control similar emissions from an oil/water separator. The estimated cost of these controls is almost $4 million. SABIC will also invest an additional $1.3 million to control HAP emissions from certain process vents as a supplemental environmental project. The compliance program and engineered controls will reduce HAP emissions by up to 136.7 tons per year.
By Dave Pearce
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