Enforcement

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) Innovative Plastics - LLC Settlement

(Washington, DC - May 30, 2012) SABIC Innovative Plastics US LLC, and its subsidiary, SABIC Innovative Plastics Mt. Vernon, LLC, have agreed to pay a $1,012,873 civil penalty and to improve leak detection and repair practices to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) at chemical manufacturing facilities in Mt. Vernon, Ind. and Burkville, Ala., the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today. Emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from leaking equipment impact the environment and may cause serious health effects including cancer, reproductive issues and birth defects. 

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Overview of Company

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) Innovative Plastics, LLC (formerly GE Plastics) is a plastic manufacturing facility  Violations were found at SABIC’s facilities in Mt. Vernon, Indiana and Burkville, Alabama.

SABIC Innovative Plastics is among the world's largest producers of high-performance polymers used by manufacturers of electronics, office equipment, computers, and automotive products. SABIC is a top producer of engineering thermoplastics. The company was formed in 2007 when General Electric sold GE Plastics to Saudi Arabia's largest public company, SABIC, for $11 billion.

The company's units include:

  • Specialty Film & Sheet, makes the polycarbonate sheet and film under the Lexan brand name
  • Polymershapes, a plastic film, sheet, and tube distributor
  • Resins, a producer of all manner of plastic resins (the starting point in making most plastic materials).

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Violations

According to the 15-count complaint, SABIC allegedly violated Clean Air Act requirements for:

  • monitoring and repairing leaking equipment
  • demonstrating compliance with regulations applicable to chemical plants
  • failure to comply with reporting requirements
  • failure to properly perform leak detection monitoring (EPA Reference Method 21)
  • failure to control emissions from larger drains and trenches for liquid streams in open systems
  • failure to control emissions from an oil/water separator
  • failure to properly equip open-ended valves or lines with a closure device
  • failure to properly equip each sampling connection system
  • failure to conduct a valid EPA Method 2A flow rate test
  • failure to make a first attempt at repair within 5 days
  • failure to repair a leak within 15 days
  • failure to monitor within a 2 year reporting time period
  • failure to report repairs past 15 days in seven semiannual reports
  • failure to provide justifications for reported delay of repairs in the seven semiannual reports

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Injunctive Relief

The settlement includes the following features:

  • SABIC is required to implement enhanced work practices, including more frequent leak monitoring, better repair practices, and innovative new work practices designed to prevent leaks. 
  • SABIC is required to replace valves with new “low emissions” valves or valve packing material, designed to significantly reduce the likelihood of future leaks of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). 
  • At the Mt. Vernon facility, SABIC engineered HAP emission controls for hundreds of drains and trenches. SABIC is required to control similar emissions from an oil/water separator. 
  • The estimated cost of these controls is almost $4 million. 
  • SABIC will invest an additional $1.3 million to control HAP emissions from certain process vents as a Supplemental Environmental Project. 
  • The compliance program and engineered controls will reduce HAP emissions by up to 136.7 tons per year.

Pollutant Impacts

EPA estimates that more than 144 tons per year of hazardous air pollutant reductions will be reduced by this settlement. 

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Health Effects and Environmental Benefits

The settlement will result in more than 144 tons of hazardous air pollutant reductions, including phenol and ethylbenzene. On the skin these chemicals are  highly corrosive and readily absorbed. They can affect the central nervous system and cause liver and kidney damage.  The emission reductions will reduce the health risks in the surrounding community.

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Civil Penalty

SABIC will pay a civil penalty of $1,012,873.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, 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:

Kosta Loukeris
Region 5
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
77 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 353-6198
loukeris.constance@epa.gov

Charlie Garlow
Air Enforcement Division
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW (MC 2242A)
Washington, DC 20460 
(202) 564-1088
garlow.charlie@epa.gov

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