WASHINGTON –The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) announced that PCS Nitrogen has agreed to reduce air emissions from phosphoric acid production at its facility in Geismar, La.
“Reducing pollution from mining and mineral processing operations is one of EPA’s national enforcement initiatives because these facilities release more toxic chemicals than any other sector,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This settlement will reduce millions of pounds of hazardous air pollutants, ensuring that the residents of Geismar Louisiana have cleaner air.”
The settlement resolves PCS’s alleged Clean Air Act violations at its cooling tower operations, which use scrubbers to control air emissions from its phosphoric acid processing equipment. Under the settlement, PCS will prevent the release of 15 million pounds of hydrogen fluoride, a hazardous air pollutant annually and will pay a civil penalty of $198,825.30. PCS has already implemented the pollution controls sought in the settlement.
Mining and mineral processing facilities generate more toxic and hazardous waste than any other industrial sector, based on EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory. In a national enforcement effort, EPA has focused on the phosphoric acid industry because of the high risk of groundwater contamination from facility wastewaters to nearby areas, and the release of acidic wastewaters to local rivers and lakes that cause fish kills. Examples include a 65 million gallon release of acidic wastewaters from the Mosaic Riverview facility into Tampa Bay, which led to a massive local fish kill and a 2007 incident at the Agrifos phosphoric acid facility in Houston that released 50 million gallons of acidic wastewaters into the Houston Ship Channel. Since 2003, EPA has investigated a total of twenty phosphoric acid facilities in seven states.
The consent decree is subject to a 30 day public comment period.
More information on the settlement: www.epa.gov/enforcement/waste/