$13.9 Million Clean Air Settlement Covers 12 Plants In Eight States

A multi-state Clean Air Act (CAA) settlement reached with oilseed processor Bunge North America Inc. and three of its subsidiaries seeks to eliminate more than 2,200 tons of harmful pollution emissions per year when fully implemented. The $13.9 million settlement covers 12 plants in eight states, each of which joined the federal government as a co-plaintiff.

"Agricultural processing facilities can be major sources of air pollution, and this settlement secures permanent and substantial emission reductions for citizens in the affected states," said Granta Y. Nakayama, EPA's assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

The settlement, announced on Oct. 26, covers 11 soybean processing plants: Decatur, Ala.; Marks, Miss.; Destrehan, La.; Emporia, Kan.; Council Bluffs, Iowa; Delphos, Ohio; Marion, Ohio; Decatur, Ind.; Morristown, Ind.; Cairo, Ill.; and Danville, Ill. The agreement also covers a corn dry mill extraction plant in Danville, Ill. The federal government alleges that at some or all of these 12 plants, Bunge or a subsidiary violated the CAA by constructing major modifications that increased emissions without obtaining pre-construction permits and without complying with applicable standards of performance for new air pollution sources.

When fully implemented, the settlement will eliminate more than 2,200 tons per year of harmful emissions of smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter (PM).

Bunge, a multi-state agribusiness based in St. Louis, is the North American operating arm of multinational corporation Bunge Limited, and a leading oilseed processor, corn dry miller, and U.S. exporter of soybeans and soybean-derived products. To extract oil from soybeans or corn, Bunge and its subsidiaries use volatile organic solvents. Emissions of VOCs result because some of the solvent escapes to the atmosphere. NOx, SO2 and PM are emitted when fuel is burned to provide heat for the process; additional PM is emitted by handling and preparation of the soybeans or corn.

"This agreement acknowledges the steps Bunge has taken and will take to ensure that we meet or exceed all applicable environmental regulations," said Carl Hausmann, president and CEO, Bunge North America. "Bunge is committed to being a good citizen in the communities we serve, which includes operating our business in a safe and environmentally responsible manner."

Once fully implemented, the settlement will cause Bunge and its subsidiaries to reduce their emissions of harmful air pollutants as follows:

  • Using engineering approaches appropriate for each plant, the 12 plants' emissions of VOCs, including n-hexane, which is a listed hazardous air pollutant, will be reduced by 1,122 tons per year (tpy).
  • A host of pollution control projects at the plants, including the innovative technology pilot, will reduce emissions of SO2 by 574 tpy, of NOx by 278 tpy, and of PM by 258 tpy.

The emission reduction projects will cost an estimated $12 million. Bunge also will pay a $625,000 civil penalty, which will be divided among the federal government and the eight states. In addition, Bunge will spend more than $1.25 million to implement supplemental environmental projects which go beyond mere compliance to achieve additional environmental benefits. The supplemental projects, which were selected by and will be supervised by the eight states, include removal of mercury, lead or asbestos from schools in Louisiana, providing hazardous materials response equipment and training in Illinois and Mississippi, providing environmental education in Kansas, abatement of residential lead contamination in Illinois, and retrofitting diesel school buses or other diesel vehicles in Indiana, Ohio, Kansas, Iowa and Alabama.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lodged the consent decree on Oct. 26 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois in Urbana. The consent decree will be subject to a 30-day public comment period and subsequent judicial approval. It will be available on DOJ's Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

This article originally appeared in the 10/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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