Agrium/Royster-Clark Clean Air Settlement

(Washington, D.C. - Feb. 6, 2007) -- 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 uncovered by EPA. The parent companies also agreed to install state-of-the-art pollution control equipment at the facility that will reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions of by more than 200 tons per year.

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Agrium owns and operates a nitrogenous fertilizer plant located in North Bend, Ohio (North Bend Plant). The North Bend Plant manufactures, among other things, nitric acid. Agrium's nitric acid plant manufactures nitric acid through the catalytic oxidation of ammonia. Nitric acid has many uses as an intermediate chemical, but it is primarily used in the production of ammonium nitrate and other fertilizers and explosives. Today's settlement resolves Agrium's Clean Air Act violations associated with its nitric acid plant's excess NOx emissions.

The violations at the North Bend Plant primarily arose from work on the nitric acid plant known as the "heat train revision" conducted in 1990 and several subsequent activities which occurred throughout the early 1990's. Collectively, these activities increased the capacity of the nitric acid plant and emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) that triggered PSD and NSPS obligations under the federal rules. The nitric acid plant should have complied with the PSD requirements, by applying for and receiving a PSD Permit to Install (PTI) under the Ohio State Implementation Plan (SIP), the NSPS for Nitric Acid Production Plants, 40 C.F.R. Part 60 Subpart G, and had these requirements incorporated into its Title V permit.

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State Involvement

The State of Ohio is not a signatory to this Consent Decree, but the enforcement team has coordinated with both the Ohio EPA and the Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services in this matter.

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Agrium is a for-profit manufacturer of fertilizers and agricultural products. Agrium acquired the North Bend Plant by purchasing it from Royster-Clark in September 2006. Royster-Clark acquired the North Bend Plant through a merger with its subsidiary, Royster-Clark AgriBusiness, Inc. in August 2006. Royster-Clark AgriBusiness, Inc owned and operated the North Bend plant during all other times relevant to the Consent Decree. Royster-Clark AgriBusiness, Inc. (known as Vigoro Industries, Inc.) conducted the work at issue in this matter.

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Injunctive Relief

This Consent Decree is the first settlement of the National NSR/PSD Acid Plant Priority. The settlement requires state-of-the-art NOx control equipment and generates NOx emission reductions of over 200 tons per year. The Consent Decree requires the installation of a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system that reduces NOx emissions by at least 90%. The Consent Decree contains the following NOx limits:

  • 0.6 lbs/ton of 100% nitric acid produced, 365 day rolling average
  • 1.0 lbs/ton of 100% nitric acid produced, 3 hour rolling average

These emission limits are consistent with the lowest permitted emission rate of any nitric acid plant in the nation and will become effective 2 years after the Consent Decree is entered. Compliance with these emission limits will result in an emission reduction of approximately 200 tons of NOx per year.

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Civil Penalty

Agrium and Royster-Clark, Inc. will pay a cash civil penalty of $750,000.

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Health Effects

NOx in the environment causes severe respiratory problems and contributes to childhood asthma. NOx is a significant contributor to acid rain, climate change, smog and haze.

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For more information, contact:

Nathan Frank
US EPA Region 5
77 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604
Office: 312-886-3850
Frank Nathan (frank.nathan@epa.gov)

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