US PVC producers to cut vinyl chloride emissions by 70 tonnes/yr

23 December 2009 21:06  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US polyvinyl chloride (PVC) producers will reduce vinyl chloride air emissions by 70 tonnes/year as a result of pollution enforcement actions taken since 2003, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Wednesday.

The EPA said it has addressed pollution issues at 11 US PVC plants. Vinyl chloride is a human carcinogen with a reportable emissions quantity of one pound, the EPA said.

During the 2009 fiscal year, the US reached a multi-million dollar settlement with Shintech regarding emissions from its PVC plant in Freeport, Texas, the EPA said.

Shintech agreed to spend roughly $12m (€8.4m) to reach environmental compliance at its Freeport plant.

The EPA said Shintech would spend $4.8m to close a lagoon and a drying bed that were not designed to handle hazardous waste, implement a series of audits and reviews of its hazardous-waste handling practices, and add a treatment tank to its waste-water treatment system.

Shintech also has agreed to pay a $2.6m civil penalty to resolve environmental violations and to perform $4.7m worth of supplemental environmental projects, the EPA said.

This year was also marked by a settlement in which polymers major Invista was to pay $1.7m in civil penalties and spend between $240m and $500m to correct environmental violations at 12 facilities acquired from DuPont in 2004, the EPA said.

“By correcting these violations, Invista will reduce harmful air pollution by nearly 10,000 tons per year,” the EPA said, noting that Invista voluntarily disclosed the violations.

In fiscal year 2009, the EPA resolved voluntarily disclosed violations with 400 entities, including more than 50 resolutions that resulted in direct environmental benefits, the agency said.

“As a result of disclosures resolved this fiscal year, more than 7.4m lbs [33,566 tonnes] of hazardous waste will be treated, minimised, or properly disposed and nearly 23m of pollutants will be reduced or treated,” the EPA said.

The agency also made headway in criminal cases, it said, with 387 new environmental crime cases opened during the fiscal year, the highest number in the past five years.

A total of 200 defendants (146 individuals and 54 businesses or corporations) were charged with criminal violations during fiscal year 2009, an increase over the 176 defendants who were charged in fiscal year 2008.

Criminal defendants were assessed a total of $96m in fines and restitution, an increase over the $63.5m assessed in fiscal year 2008, the EPA said.

This included a $50m fine assessed against BP, the largest criminal fine ever assessed under the Clean Air Act, after the company plead guilty to a felony violation of the act. BP was prosecuted for conduct that resulted in the explosion on 23 March, 2005 at its Texas City, Texas, refinery which killed 15 contract workers and injured over 170 others.

($1 = €0.70)

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By: Brian Ford
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