Enforcement

PCS Geismar (Louisiana) Clean Air Act MACT Settlement

(Washington, DC - May 23, 2013) 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 and hazardous waste generated from phosphoric acid production at its facility in Geismar, La.

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Overview of Company

The PCS Geismar, Louisiana plant is located on about 10 acres at 10886 Highway 75 Geismar, Louisiana 70737. The facility produces phosphoric acid, and manufactures nitrogen solutions, phosphate fertilizer and other industrial products.

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Violations

The PCS Geismar facility uses scrubbers to control air emissions, particularly fluorides, emanating from its phosphoric acid process equipment. The facility's cooling towers are therefore subject to the maximum available control technology (MACT) standard set forth at 40 C.F.R. §§ 63.602(e). PCS failed to comply with Section 112 of the Clean Air Act and with the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) from Phosphoric Acid Manufacturing Plants, 40 C.F.R. Part 63 Subpart AA, as follows:

  • PCS historically introduced phosphoric acid scrubber effluent into its cooling towers in violation of 40 C.F.R. § 63.602(e), resulting in uncontrolled and excess emissions of fluorides.
  • PCS had not annually certified its compliance with the requirements found at 40 C.F.R. § 63.602.

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    Injunctive Relief

    The settlement requires PCS to:

    • Disable the two pre-scrubber elements discharging to the cooling tower. PCS completed this injunctive relief as of December 20, 2012.
    • By December 31, 2013, PCS will remove and demolish the piping and pumps that it used to convey scrubber water to the cooling tower.

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    Pollutant Impacts

    EPA estimates that the settlement will result in a reduction of 15 million pounds/year of HF released to the atmosphere. Because the pre-scrubber effluent is a RCRA hazardous waste, there is also a reduction of 768 million pounds/year of RCRA hazardous wastewaters.

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    Health Effects and Environmental Benefits

    Reduction of hydrogen fluoride emissions to the air. Hydrogen fluoride is a listed hazardous air pollutant. Acute inhalation exposure to gaseous hydrogen fluoride can cause severe respiratory damage in humans, including severe irritation and pulmonary edema. Irritation of the eyes, nose, and upper and lower respiratory tract, lacrimation, sore throat, cough, chest tightness, and wheezing have been reported at lower level exposures. Reduction of risk of release of million of gallons of hazardous wastewaters.

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

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    Civil Penalty

    Under the proposed decree, PCS will pay a penalty of $198,825.30. EPA will share the penalty equally with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ).

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    State Partners

    Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality

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    Comment Period

    The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, 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:

    Kathryn P. Caballero
    Waste & Chemical Enforcement Division
    U. S. Environmental Protection Agency 1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW (MC 2249A)
    Washington, DC 20460
    (202) 564-1849
    Kathryn Caballero (caballero.kathryn@epa.gov)