Enforcement

Air Products LLC Settlement

(Washington, DC - August 26, 2010) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Justice Department today announced that Air Products LLC has agreed to pay nearly $1.5 million in civil penalties to resolve hazardous waste mismanagement violations at its Pasadena, Texas chemical manufacturing facility. The settlement resolves Air Products' Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) violations in transferring spent acid to the neighboring Agrifos fertilizer manufacturing plant.

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Overview of Company and Facility Locations

Air Products is a multi-discipline corporation, serving customers in technology, energy, healthcare, and industrial markets worldwide, providing atmospheric gases, process and specialty gases, process and cryogenic equipment, and performance materials. With annual revenues of $8.3 billion and operations in more than 40 countries, Air Products' employs approximately 18,900 people. The company ranks 248th in sales and 256th in total assets among FORTUNE magazine's May 2009 list of the 500 largest corporations in the U.S. Corporate headquarters are located in eastern Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, near Allentown.

  • The facility covered by this settlement is located in Pasadena, Texas.
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Violations

As a result of an inspection, EPA identified the following violations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA):

  • Failure to make a hazardous waste determination for the spent sulfuric acid as required by 40 C.F.R. § 262.11 and 30 Tex. Admin. Code § 335.62.
  • Shipment of hazardous waste of the spent sulfuric acid to an unauthorized facility, in violation of 40 C.F.R. § 270.10, Section 3005 of RCRA, 42 U.S.C. § 6925, 30 Tex. Admin. Code §§ 335.2, 335.43 and 335.62.
  • Failure to perform a land-disposal determination and submit notification for the spent sulfuric acid, in violation of 40 C.F.R. § 268.7(a)(1) and 30 Tex. Admin. Code §§ 335.6 and 335.431.
  • Failure to provide adequate notification regarding use of a hazardous waste, the spent sulfuric acid, in a manner constituting disposal, in violation of 40 C.F.R. §§ 266.21 and 266.22, and 30 Tex. Admin. Code §§ 335.6, 335.212, and 335.213.
  • Unpermitted hazardous waste storage tank in violation of 40 C.F.R. § 270.1 and 30 Tex. Admin. Code § 335.43.
  • Failure to submit biennial reporting regarding shipment of the spent acid to Agrifos to EPA's Regional Administrator and to TCEQ, as required by 40 C.F.R. § 262.41 and 30 Tex. Admin. Code § 335.71.
  • Failure to adequately label hazardous waste storage tank containing spent carbon in violation of 40 C.F.R. § 262.34 and 30 Tex. Admin. Code §§ 335.66 and 335.67.

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Injunctive Relief
  • Cease shipments of spent sulfuric acid to Agrifos and any other facility that is not authorized to receive it.
  • Certify that facility activities are in compliance with the provisions that are cited in the complaint.
  • Certify that storage tanks, to the extent utilized for hazardous waste, are in compliance with RCRA.
  • Notify EPA and Texas if spent sulfuric acid is disposed of or sent off-site.

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Pollutant Reductions
  • Elimination of approximately 500,000 dry tons of hazardous waste acid (characteristically corrosive and contaminated with dinitrotoluene) per year. The spent acid will be recycled in an on-site closed-loop system and regenerated for continued use by the facility.
  • Elimination of 365 lbs of dinitrotoluene contaminant per year that was contained in the waste acid.

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Health and Environmental Effects
  • Air Products' used acid will no longer be sent off-site and will reduce the risk that contaminated hazardous wastewaters from the facility would be released from the neighboring phosphoric acid industry.

  • Release of acidic wastewaters contaminate groundwater and can cause fish kills in local rivers and lakes.

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Civil Penalty

Air Products will pay a $1.485 million penalty with the United States receiving $1.35 million and the State of Texas receiving $135,000.

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State Partner

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comment is available at the Department of Justice website.

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Mining and Mineral Processing National Initiative

EPA has focused on compliance in the phosphoric acid industry because of the high risk of releases of acidic wastewaters at these facilities. Examples of effects include:

  • Difficulties managing the bankrupt Mulberry Phosphates Piney Point facility (Polk County, Fla.) since 2001 has caused the State of Florida to incur nearly $200 million for cleanup and forced the disposal of 534 million gallons of partially-treated hazardous wastewaters into the Gulf of Mexico.
  • A 2004 release of 65 million gallons of hazardous wastewaters from the Mosaic Riverview Facility into Tampa Bay resulted in a massive fish kill.
  • A 2007 release at the Agrifos phosphoric acid facility in Houston caused 50 million gallons of hazardous wastewaters to be released into the Houston Ship Channel.
  • A 2009 sinkhole at the PCS White Springs phosphoric acid facility in north Florida released over 90 million gallons of hazardous wastewaters into the Floridian aquifer, the drinking water source for Florida and south Georgia.

EPA's enforcement of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) ensures the enforceability of rules and permits issued under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act so that people and the environment are protected from exposure to hazardous wastes. For more information please see Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA): Mineral Processing.

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For more information, contact:

Peter Raack
U.S. EPA
Waste and Chemical Enforcement Division
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington DC 20460
(202) 564-4075
Pete Raack (raack.pete@epa.gov)

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