N.J. PVC Maker to Reduce Emissions, Pay $1.3-M Penalty

Colorite Specialty Resins, headquartered in Somerville, N.J., has agreed to perform corrective measures at its Burlington, N.J., manufacturing facility that will reduce harmful emissions of vinyl chloride to resolve alleged violations of federal and state environmental laws, the Justice Department, the state of New Jersey, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced in an Aug. 19 press release.

Along with the corrective remedies, the company will pay a $1.3 million civil penalty to be split between the United States and the state of New Jersey. Colorite also will perform two federal environment projects valued at more than $1 million that will further reduce vinyl chloride emissions from the facility.

Colorite's facility manufactures polyvinyl chloride plastic and vinyl products. As part of its manufacturing processes, the facility emits vinyl chloride. EPA has classified vinyl chloride as a Group A human carcinogen. Exposure to the chemical has been linked to adverse human health effects, including liver cancer, other liver ailments, and neurological disorders.

According to the settlement, Colorite has agreed to lower limits on residual vinyl chloride in both types of resins it produces; test for such residues in every batch of resin and test for vinyl chloride emissions during every reactor opening; conduct an analysis of its wastewater stripper to determine the sources of Clean Air Act violations; and institute better hazardous waste handling practices.

Under the agreement, Colorite will remove compressors used in the manufacturing process and replace them with two rotary compressors that are expected to reduce vinyl chloride emissions by 2,200 pounds per year. Combined, the lower regulatory limits and compressor replacements are estimated to reduce vinyl chloride emissions by approximately 11,000 pounds per year.

The settlement also requires the company to implement an extensive and comprehensive leak detection and repair program. The program will require internal notifications of emissions levels and action when levels reach specified concentrations, as well as quarterly trend analysis on ambient monitoring data to identify areas of the facility with the greatest number of leaks. It also requires the company to develop a training program and apply it to all employees involved in the facility's operations.

Colorite has further agreed to a third-party audit of all operations at the facility, with a follow-up audit two years later.

"EPA is making a concerted effort to focus on facilities that emit vinyl chloride because it is potentially very harmful and this settlement shows that our efforts are paying off with real benefits to nearby communities," said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA's Region 2 Administrator. "In this case, Colorite has agreed to clean up their act, which will have a direct positive impact on people in Burlington County."

The proposed consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/open.html.

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