Carbon Black Producer Cabot Fined Nearly $1 million by EPA
Cabot Corporation, the second largest carbon black manufacturer in the U.S., has been fined $975,000 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and ordered to invest some $84 million in state-of-the-art antipollution equipment. The Boston-based company also will be obliged to spend $450,000 on energy saving and pollution reduction projects that will benefit the communities surrounding the facilities
In its action against Cabot, the agency alleged that between 2003 and 2009 the company made major modifications at its three production facilities in Franklin and Ville Platte, Louisiana, and Pampa, Texas, without obtaining pre-construction permits and without installing and operating required antipollution technology. This, it said, was in violation of the New Source Review (NSR) provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and resulted in increased emissions of NOx and SO2.
The case is the first to result from a national enforcement initiative aimed at bringing carbon black manufacturers into compliance with the antipollution legislation. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, a co-plaintiff in the case, will receive $292,500 of the penalty.
"With today's commitment to invest in pollution controls, Cabot has raised the industry standard for environmental protection," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "These upgrades will have lasting, tangible impacts on improved respiratory health for local communities. We expect others in the industry to take notice and realize their obligation to protect the communities in which they operate," she said.
At all three plants, the settlement requires that the carbon black producer improve existing controls for particulate matter or soot, operate an early warning detection system that will alert facility operators to any particulate matter releases and comply with a plan to control "fugitive emissions" resulting from leaks or unintended releases of gases.
To address nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution, Cabot will be required to install selective catalytic reduction technology, install continuous monitoring systems and comply with stringent limits. At the two larger facilities in Louisiana, it must address sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution by installing wet gas scrubbers as well as installing continuous monitoring. In addition, the Texas facility is required to comply with a limit on the amount of sulfur in feedstock, which the EPA said is the lowest for any carbon black plant in the United States.
The agency said the measures should reduce NOx emissions by about 1,975 t/y, SO2 emissions by around 12,380 t/y, and "significantly improve" existing particulate matter controls.