Air Pollution Control Technology or EPA Fines? You Decide.

One company's audacious defiance of EPA regulations has ended up costing them dearly. SA Recycling LLC of Anaheim, Calif., has agreed to settle a lawsuit from Los Angeles County for failure to install and operate a dust collection systems at its various facilities. The company has agreed to a $2.9 million settlement and to pay an additional $690,000 in fines and investigative expenses.

The lawsuit alleges the company, which operates more than 50 junkyards and recycling smelters, used for processing scrape metals including lead, failed to replace the dust collection system at its Terminal Island, Calif., site after it was destroyed in a 2007 explosion. The plant then allegedly continued to operate the site without replacing the system.

Dust collection systems, an integral air pollution control method,  are used to filter out harmful particles from the emissions of industrial sources. These compounds include particles from combustion, such as ash and soot, mercury and other volatile organic compounds.

The plant, in trying get by without installing dust collection system, apparently had hoped to avoid the capital costs associated with installing a new system, and then operated the systems. In the end, the plants have been fined well in excess of the system install costs, and, in addition, are being forced to install the dust collection equipment at sites in San Pedro, as well as Kern and Orange counties in California.

Recently, the EPA has tightened existing clean air regulations and standards, making air pollution control technology vital to ensuring compliance. The National Ambient Air Quality Standards and National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants regulations--among many others--were revised to include more stringent emissions limits for particulate matter (PM2.5 or particulates smaller than 2.5 microns) and other pollutants. The EPA also recently codified the long-awaited Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. These regulations require coal-burning operations, such as coal-fired power plants, to reduce mercury emissions to acceptable levels using the most efficient current technology, known as Maximum Achievable Control Technology. Dust collection technology is integral to meeting all of these standards.

The funds collected from the settlement will be divided among several different organizations, including the California State Department of Toxic Substances Control, 11 marina operators, the University of California and Coalition for Safe Environment.

Fabric dust collection systems work by forcing the dirty air through a set of filter bags that are housed within an enclosure, known as a baghouse, before releasing the air into the atmosphere. Periodically, the filters are cleaned, usually using a system of compressed air within the baghouse to blow off the excess dust buildup, known as filter cake, which is then dropped into a hopper to be either disposed of in landfills or used in other products, such as in cement production.

With increasingly strict federal and state environmental regulations, companies around the country can learn from the mistakes in this example, and consider the potential pitfalls of reluctancting to invest in pollution control technology and its potential impact on their bottom line.

About the Author

Dominick DalSanto is an author and environmental technologies expert, specializing in dust collection systems. He is currently the online marketing director and content manager at

Posted on Oct 17, 2011