Enforcement

H. Kramer Company Settlement

(Chicago, IL -  Jan. 31, 2013) H. Kramer & Co. will invest approximately $3 million in pollution control equipment, pay a civil penalty of $35,000 and spend $40,000 on a supplemental environmental project to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act, according to the terms of a settlement with the United States and the State of Illinois, announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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Overview of Company

H. Kramer is a corporation that owns and operates a secondary nonferrous metals facility (Facility) manufacturing primarily brass and bronze ingots, where a portion of the facility’s production capacity is devoted to lead-containing metal alloys. The facility is located at 1345 West 21st Street in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois and contains operations that emit lead.

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Violations

In the complaint, the United States brings three claims against H. Kramer. First, the United States alleges that H. Kramer violated the Illinois State Implementation Plan by causing or allowing the emission of lead into the air to cause air pollution and/or to prevent the attainment or maintenance of the revised National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for lead. Second, the United States alleges that H. Kramer failed to maintain and operate the rotary furnaces at the facility in a manner consistent with good air pollution control practice as required by the Standards of Performance for New Stationary Sources. Third, the United States alleges that H. Kramer failed to operate and maintain all furnace melting operations in a manner consistent with good air pollution control practices as required by the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.

On November 12, 2008, EPA revised the NAAQS for lead. The revised national primary and secondary ambient air quality standards for lead and its compounds are 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3), arithmetic mean concentration over a 3-month period. EPA revised the primary NAAQS for lead to provide increased protection for children and other at-risk populations against an array of adverse health effects, most notably including neurological effects in children. EPA also revised the secondary standard to be identical to the revised primary standard.

On January 20, 2010, in response to citizen complaints, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency installed and began operating a Total Suspended Particulate ambient air quality monitor on the roof of the Manuel Perez Jr. Elementary School, located two blocks northeast of the facility. The 3-month average concentration of lead from October through December 2010 as measured by the monitor was 0.241 µg/m3, which is in excess of the revised NAAQS of 0.15 µg/m3. The 3-month average concentration of lead from November 2010 through January 2011 as measured by the monitor was 0.294 µg/m3. And, the 3-month average concentration of lead from December 2010 through February 2011 as measured by the monitor was 0.279 µg/m3. The monitor at the Perez School has not shown any 3-month average concentrations of lead in excess of the revised NAAQS since February 2011.

On November 22, 2011, EPA designated the area in Chicago, Illinois bounded by Damen Avenue to the west, Roosevelt Road to the north, the Dan Ryan Expressway to the east, and the Stevenson Expressway to the south, as nonattainment for the 2008 NAAQS for lead. The facility is located in the nonattainment area.

The complaint also includes two claims by the State of Illinois.

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Injunctive Relief

The consent decree requires H. Kramer to replace the existing pollution control equipment serving the two rotary furnaces at the facility with new pollution control technology before September 1, 2013. The new pollution control equipment will include two identical state-of-the-art pollution control systems to control particulate emissions from each of the two rotary furnaces at the facility. Each emission control system will include a spark arrestor, two pulse jet dust collector modules, two high efficiency particulate air filter boxes, two fans, related drives and motors and one stack, each of which is connected to a baghouse.

The consent decree also requires H. Kramer to reduce rotary furnace production of two lead alloys until 30 days after H. Kramer begins operation of the new pollution control equipment and to conduct monitoring and stack testing of the new equipment.

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Pollutant Reductions

EPA expects that the new pollution control equipment will reduce the potential for future violations of the Clean Air Act and exposure to lead in the Pilsen neighborhood.

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Health and Environmental Effects

Lead can cause damage to the blood, kidneys, and central nervous and other systems and can cause anemia, kidney damage, brain damage, and in extreme cases, death. When emitted into the air, lead can be inhaled or ingested. Lead is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and can affect organs and neurological function. Exposure to lead is particularly dangerous for vulnerable populations, such as children. Lead is a persistent pollutant that if emitted into the air can end up in water or soil.

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Supplemental Environmental Project

The consent decree requires H. Kramer to perform a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP). The SEP involves retrofitting eleven school bus diesel vehicles operating in the Pilsen neighborhood and surrounding areas of Chicago with emission control equipment designed to reduce emissions of particulates and/or ozone precursors in diesel vehicle exhaust. The estimated cost of the project is $40,000.

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Civil Penalty

H. Kramer will pay a $35,000 penalty of which $17,500 will be paid to the United States and $17,500 will be paid to the state.

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Comment Period

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

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For more information, contact:

Christine Liszewski
Office of Regional Counsel
Region 5
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
77 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL
liszewski.christine@epa.gov
(312) 886-4670

Kushal Som
Air and Radiation Division
Region 5
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
77 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL
som.kushal@epa.gov
(312) 353-5792

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