Rhodia Inc. Clean Air Act Settlement Act

(Washington, D.C. - April 26, 2007) Acid manufacturer Rhodia Inc. will pay a $2 million penalty and spend approximately $50 million on air pollution controls at eight production plants in four states across the country, to resolve allegations that the company violated the Clean Air Act. The pollution controls are expected to reduce harmful emissions from its production plants in Texas, Louisiana, California and Indiana by 19,000 tons per year.


Rhodia Inc. owns and operates eight contact process sulfuric acid plants at six plant locations in Hammond, Indiana; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Houston, Texas; Baytown, Texas; Dominguez, California; and Martinez, California. Each of these plants manufactures, among other things, sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid is the number one chemical produced in the United States as it has diverse uses as an intermediate chemical. In largest amounts, sulfuric acid and related products are used to make fertilizer, gasoline, soaps and detergents, organic chemicals, and pigments and dyes. Rhodia primarily markets the acid it produces for use in the production of high-octane gasoline. Today's settlement resolves Rhodia's Clean Air Act violations associated with excess emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and sulfuric acid mist from each of its eight sulfuric acid plants.

Rhodia's violations involved modifications that triggered New Source Review (NSR), Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD), and New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) obligations under the federal rules for the pollutants SO2 and sulfuric acid mist. Each sulfuric acid plant should have complied with the NSR and/or PSD requirements, by applying for and receiving a NSR and/or PSD Permit under its applicable State Implementation Plan (SIP), the NSPS for Sulfuric Acid Production Plants, 40 C.F.R. Part 60 Subpart H, and had these requirements incorporated into its Title V permit.

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State Involvement

EPA has worked collaboratively with several state and local agencies to achieve this settlement. Signatories to the Consent Decree will include the State of Louisiana, the State of Indiana, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAMQD), and the City of Hammond, Indiana. EPA also worked with the State of Texas on this settlement, although it declined the invitation to become a signatory. The South Coast Air Quality Management District also declined an invitation to participate in this settlement.

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Rhodia Inc. is a for-profit producer of basic and specialty chemicals. Rhodia Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rhodia SA, a French chemical conglomerate. Previous owners of these plants include Rhône Poulenc and Stauffer Chemical.

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Injunctive Relief

This Consent Decree is the second settlement of the National NSR/PSD Acid Plant Priority and the first global settlement involving a producer of sulfuric acid. The settlement requires state-of-the-art SO2 control equipment and generates SO2 emission reductions of over 19,000 tons per year. The Consent Decree requires the installation of wet gas scrubbers or double absorption technology and enhanced catalyst, both of which are capable of reducing SO2 emissions by 95%. The Consent Decree will also require Rhodia to maintain and operate existing sulfuric acid mist control equipment and assure compliance with stringent limitations for this pollutant. The Consent Decree contains the following emission limits:

Pollutant Hammond, Indiana Martinez, California Dominguez, California Baytown, Texas Houston #8, Texas Houston #2, Texas Baton Rouge #2, Louisiana Baton Rouge #1, Louisiana
SO212 2.5 lb/ton 2.2 lbs/ton -----3 2.2 lbs/ton 1.7 lbs/ton 1.8 lbs/ton 2.2 lbs/ton 1.9 lbs/ton
Acid Mist2 0.15 lbs/ton 0.15 lbs/ton 0.15 lbs/ton 0.15 lbs/ton 0.15 lbs/ton 0.15 lbs/ton 0.15 lbs/ton 0.15 lbs/ton

The range of emission limits presented here are consistent with the lowest permitted emission rate of any sulfuric acid plant in the nation. Compliance with these emission limits will result in an emission reduction of approximately 19,000 tons of SO2 per year in addition to reductions in acid mist emissions.

This settlement will result in environmental benefits in four of this country's largest metropolitan areas - Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Baton Rouge. As a result, it will benefit millions of people around the nation.

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Civil Penalty

Rhodia will pay a civil penalty of $2,000,000, with $1 million to the United States and $1 million to the participating state and local partners.

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Health Effects

SO2 in the environment causes severe respiratory problems and contributes to childhood asthma. SO2 is a significant contributor to acid rain, visibility impairment, fine particulate matter formation, and smog. Sulfuric acid mist can cause respiratory damage, damage to the mouth, throat, and lungs, and damage to the eyes.

1 All SO2 emission limitations are 365 day rolling averages.

2 All emission limitations are expressed as lbs per ton of sulfuric acid produced, 100% sulfuric acid basis.

3 The Dominguez plant will continue to comply with its emissions limit under Southern California's RECLAIM program, which is approximately equal to 1.7 lbs/ton or lower.

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For additional information, contact:

Cynthia King
Region 5
77 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60604
Cynthia King (king.cynthia@epa.gov)

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