Aluminum Production Facility to Pay $2 Million for Air Pollution Violations

The federal government has reached a settlement with the state of Indiana, the city of Hammond, Ind., and Jupiter Aluminum Corp., the operator of a secondary aluminum production facility in Hammond, which resolves Clean Air Act violations arising from the operations of the facility.

Under the consent decree filed on Aug. 10, Jupiter agreed to take steps to ensure future compliance with certain provisions of the federal Clean Air Act (CAA). Jupiter also will pay a civil penalty of $2 million, which will be shared between the federal government and the Hammond Department of Environmental Management (HDEM).

On Aug. 9, the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) filed a complaint alleging that Jupiter violated the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), applicable to aluminum recyclers that recycle painted or coated aluminum scrap, which became effective in early 2003. Such "secondary aluminum production facilities" can emit hazardous air pollutants during their operations, including dioxin, furans, hydrochloric acid and particulate matter containing hazardous metals. The complaint and settlement with Jupiter is the first to be brought in federal court to enforce the NESHAP regulations applicable to secondary aluminum production facilities.

The state of Indiana and the city of Hammond moved to intervene as co-plaintiffs on Aug. 10 and filed complaints in intervention on that date. The district court granted both motions to intervene on the same day.

"Jupiter Aluminum has agreed to implement procedures which will reduce harmful emissions into the air. This settlement is an example of the good that can come from the cooperation of federal, state and local government," said Ryan Nelson, deputy assistant attorney general for DOJ's Environment and Natural Resources Division.

In the complaints, the federal, state and local governments have alleged that Jupiter extensively violated the NESHAP standards applicable to secondary aluminum production facilities through its failure to establish proper pollution controls and to monitor "fugitive" emissions from its aluminum recycling facility. The settlement resolves all alleged violations and requires Jupiter to take the following steps:

  • Perform several tests to determine whether recent modifications that Jupiter made to its pollution control equipment on its two main melting furnaces adequately captures fugitive emissions from the furnaces, and whether the equipment adequately removes dioxin/furans, hydrochloric acid and particulate matter at the smoke stacks.
  • Should the tests demonstrate that Jupiter is not adequately capturing fugitive emissions or not adequately removing pollutants, then Jupiter will be required to make further modifications to its pollution control equipment or otherwise alter its operations to maintain compliance.
  • Properly weigh scrap aluminum prior to charging it into the furnaces and keep records of the type and amount of scrap charged to ensure that compliance with emission standards are maintained.
  • Fund an independent monitoring consultant to assist the regulatory agencies in monitoring Jupiter's compliance with the consent decree.
  • Allow the Hammond Department of Environmental Management to install and operate a video monitoring system, which will continuously record furnace operations.
  • Resubmit an operation, maintenance and monitoring plan, and improve the company's maintenance and recordkeeping practices to prevent future violations.

The agreement was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. A copy of the consent decree is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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