EPA sets Agrifos, ExxonMobil wastewater controls

27 March 2008 16:03  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday ordered Agrifos Fertilizer and ExxonMobil to address long-term wastewater management and prevent endangering human health and the environment.

“This order is a reminder to those who own and operate these facilities of their responsibility to protect human health and the environment,” EPA regional administrator Richard Greene said.

“EPA will continue to vigorously enforce our nation’s environmental laws through a strong enforcement programme.”

The Agrifos facility, in operation since the mid 1960s, was originally constructed and operated by the Mobil Corporation.

Agrifos operates a mineral processing facility that extracts phosphorus from mineral ores for use in commercial fertilizer. The byproduct wastes include phosphogypsum, which is accumulated in large piles of gypsum stacks, and process wastewater. 

Surrounding each gypsum stack is a moat storing process wastewater that has leached through the gypsum which is normally treated within the plant. 

In August, the Pasadena, Texas, facility accumulated excessive amounts of acidic wastewater. Heavy rainfall caused the failure of the retaining wall and released 54m gal of wastewater into local waterways.

The EPA order requires Agrifos and ExxonMobil to promptly take steps to complete side slope closure of the gypsum stacks over the next two years and develop a corrective action plan to address soil and groundwater contamination.

Agrifos and ExxonMobil will also build a new wastewater treatment plant and will dispose of acidic wastewater using the deep injection well at the facility. 

The order also requires Agrifos and ExxonMobil to create a five-year plan for managing water balance during closure activities at the site.

By: John Waggoner
+1 713 525 2653

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