Ralcorp Commercial Bakery in Lodi to Pay More than $1.3 Million for Air Violations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District today announced a Clean Air Act settlement with Ralcorp’s Cottage Bakery in Lodi, Calif. after the facility failed to obtain permits and install proper air pollution controls. The company will pay a penalty of $625,000.

In addition, the company paid $750,000 to install and operate a thermal oxidizer that reduces volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by 95 percent. VOC emissions are considered a precursor to ozone and particulate pollution. San Joaquin Valley violates the federal air quality standard for both ozone and particulate pollution and has some of the poorest air quality in the nation.

“Air quality is a critical human health issue in the San Joaquin Valley,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our enforcement action requires air pollution controls at the plant to protect the communities in the Valley from illegal emissions.”

The EPA’s investigation of the facility included an inspection conducted on July 27, 2009. The EPA’s investigation revealed that the facility had never applied for air pollution permits to install and operate the facility’s ovens and associated air pollution controls. Ethanol, a VOC, is generated during the leavening stage of bread manufacturing and is later released during baking. Cottage Bakery’s production facility includes three bread ovens installed at various times between 1997 and 2006.

Cottage Bakery is a large-scale commercial bakery with about 625 employees. The facility produces frozen bread and cake products that are used by retail bakeries and the food service industry throughout the U.S. and Canada. Cottage Bakery, Inc. is owned by Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products, headquartered in Downers Grove, Ill.

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