Carbon black maker Cabot fined for air pollution
By Miles Moore, Senior Washington Reporter
WASHINGTON (Nov. 20, 2013) — Carbon black producer Cabot Corp. has agreed to pay a $975,000 civil penalty and spend more than $84 million to control air pollution at three U.S. carbon black plants to settle a suit with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.
The deal settles an EPA suit against Cabot over alleged violations of the New Source Review (NSR) provisions of the Clean Air Act at its carbon black plants in Franklin and Ville Platte, La., and Pampa, Texas, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
This agreement, to be filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, is the first to result from a national enforcement initiative aimed at bringing carbon black manufacturers into compliance with the NSR provisions, the DOJ said.
Despite agreeing to pay the civil penalty, Cabot said it "has not acknowledged any noncompliance…." As a result of the consent decree, Cabot agreed to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOX), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter (PM) from its carbon black plants.
Cabot also agreed to invest about $450,000 toward environmental mitigation projects focused on energy-efficiency improvements in the communities where the plants are located.
The state of Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality is a co-plaintiff in the case and will receive $292,500 of the penalty, the DOJ said.
The Louisiana DEQ will receive $292,500 of the civil penalty, the EPA said.
"With today's commitment to invest in pollution controls, Cabot has raised the industry standard for environmental protection," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator at the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
"These upgrades will have lasting, tangible impacts on improved respiratory health for local communities."
According to the complaint filed by the DOJ on behalf of the EPA, Cabot made major modifications between 2003 and 2009 at its carbon black facilities without obtaining pre-construction permits or installing and operating the pollution technology required under the Clean Air Act.
These actions caused increased emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, the complaint said.
The EPA expects the measures proposed in the consent agreement to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by approximately 1,975 metric tons annually and sulfur oxide emissions by approximately 12,380 tons annually. They also should significantly improve particulate matter controls at the three Cabot facilities, the agency said.
There will be a 45-day comment period on the consent decree once it has been filed with the Louisiana court, the EPA said. Once the court approves the agreement, Cabot will have 30 days to pay the $975,000 penalty, the agency said.
The consent decree can be viewed at the DOJ's website.
To reach this reporter: [email protected]; 202-662-7211.
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