News Releases from Region 04
Mobile, Ala. (Sept. 11, 2019) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement agreement with Nouryon Functional Chemicals LLC f/k/a Akzo Nobel Functional Chemicals LLC (Nouryon Functional) to resolve allegations that the company violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) at its sulfuric acid plant located in Axis, Alabama.
Pursuant to the settlement, Nouryon Functional will pay $300,000 in civil penalties, perform an environmental mitigation project valued at $150,000 that will reduce emissions in areas impacted by the Nouryon Functional facility, and will spend approximately $10,175,000 on compliance-related measures. Through installation of a peroxide scrubber and stringent emission limits, emissions reductions of 2,340 tons per year (tpy) in sulfur dioxide (SO2) and 40 tpy in sulfuric acid mist (SAM) are already being achieved at the facility.
The terms of the settlement, contained in the consent decree, are being lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama concurrently with a complaint, which alleges that Nouryon Functional violated CAA requirements known as the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD), Title V operating permits and the federally-enforceable Alabama State Implementation Plan (SIP).
“It is important that facilities comply with Clean Air Act requirements to ensure that people in the surrounding communities are able to enjoy healthy air quality,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “Today’s agreement demonstrates EPA’s dedication to working with our state and local partners to pursue violations of laws that are critical to protecting public health and bring companies into compliance.”
Nouryon Functional’s facility is a chemical plant with six different process areas: sulfuric acid, crystex, carbon disulfide, sodium hydrosulfide, monochloroacetic acid, and the sulfur chlorides units. The sulfuric acid plant, one of the oldest process units at the facility, was originally constructed in 1956.
EPA alleges that Nouryon Functional undertook a major modification, specifically, the replacement of an external superheater, without obtaining pre-construction permits or installing and operating the best available control technology for SO2 and SAM emissions as required by the PSD program and the SIP.
The compliance measures resulting from the settlement will substantially reduce SO2 and SAM emissions and directly improve the air quality of the communities located nearby the facility in Axis, Alabama. Sulfur oxides, including SO2, can cause adverse respiratory effects, such as bronchoconstriction, emphysema and increased asthma symptoms. SO2 is a major precursor of acid rain, which has acidified soil, lakes and streams, damaged vegetation and accelerated corrosion of buildings and monuments. SAM emissions can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat, and lungs.
The proposed consent decree was lodged today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama and is subject to a 30-day public comment period that will commence on the date that notice of the settlement is published in the Federal Register.
A copy of the consent decree lodged today will be available on the Department of Justice website at: http://www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html