Air Pollution Violations Result in $750,000 for Ohio Plant

A Cincinnati-area nitric acid production facility will pay $750,000 in civil penalties to settle violations of the New Source Review (NSR) provisions of the Clean Air Act. The parent companies also agreed to install state-of-the-art pollution control equipment at the facility that will reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by more than 200 tons per year, the agency announced on Feb. 6.

EPA issued notices of violation to Agrium US Inc. and Royster-Clark Inc. in October 2006 for making construction modifications to a North Bend, Ohio, facility in the mid-1990s without first obtaining necessary federal pre-construction permits and installing the required pollution control equipment. The un-permitted modifications caused the facility to emit more NOx than allowed by federal law.

"This company increased its profits by ignoring environmental laws," said Granta Nakayama, EPA's assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assistance. " EPA will continue enforcing against companies that refuse to comply with regulations intended to protect public health and our air, water and land."

The facility releases NOx as part of its nitric acid production process. Nitric acid is used to make fertilizer, explosives and organic chemicals.

NOx causes severe respiratory problems, contributes to childhood asthma, acid rain, climate change, smog and haze, and impairs visibility in national parks. Emissions from nitric acid plants can be carried significant distances downwind, causing air quality problems in nearby states.

The Clean Air Act requires that major sources of air pollution must first obtain a permit before making any changes that would result in a significant emissions increase of any pollutant. EPA's regulations ensure that air quality is not significantly degraded from the addition of new and modified factories, industrial boilers and power plants.

Agrium, a Colorado corporation, purchased the plant from Royster-Clark, a Delaware corporation, last September.

The settlement will be filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District Court of Ohio for 30 days to allow for public comment. The companies are required to pay the penalty within 30 days after the court approves the settlement.

More information about the Agrium/Royster-Clark Clean Air Act settlement can be found at http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/roysterclark.html.

This article originally appeared in the 02/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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