MOSCOW (MRC) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a settlement with Evonik Corporation that will reduce emissions of ethylene oxide and other hazardous air pollutants by 5.6 tons per year from a facility in Reserve, St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, said the agency.
The alleged violations were found as a result of a special monitoring and enforcement effort by officials from EPA and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) following EPA Administrator Michael Regan’s visit to the area during his Journey to Justice tour.
The inspections took place in April 2022 as part of the Pollution Accountability Team, an innovative air monitoring project developed by EPA enforcement teams based on concerns of area residents. The initiative combined high-tech air pollution monitoring and real-time physical inspections. EPA’s ASPECT airplane collected emissions data from facilities while EPA’s Geospatial Monitoring of Air Pollution, or GMAP, vehicle monitored pollution levels at facility fencelines and adjacent neighborhoods. Teams of inspectors from EPA and LDEQ were available to follow up with on-the-spot, unannounced inspections at specific facilities if monitoring results indicated elevated emissions.
Evonik has already replaced their scrubber with a more efficient flare, which will destroy 98% of emissions routed to it. Evonik will also install a thermal oxidizer and be required to operate it with a minimum destruction efficiency of 99.9% as demonstrated by a required initial performance test. Evonik will also implement an enhanced leak detection and repair program, which will help minimize fugitive emissions of ethylene oxide and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
The corrective actions will reduce hazardous air pollutant emissions by about 5.6 tons per year, including 2.16 tons of ethylene oxide. Ethylene oxide is a hazardous organic pollutant and VOC that can cause cancer in humans. VOCs can contribute to the formation of ozone, or smog, which can result in health problems such as asthma, lung infections, bronchitis, and cancer.
As part of the settlement, Evonik agreed to perform a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) to further reduce facility-wide emissions. They will spend a minimum of USD335,000 to design, install, and operate a Vapor Recovery System to capture VOCs which are currently permitted for release to the atmosphere while trucks load and unload. The captured VOCs will be routed to the new thermal oxidizer/flare system. The SEP will be fully operational no later than December 31, 2026 and is expected to reduce VOC emissions by an additional 2.6 tons per year. Additionally, Evonik must pay a civil penalty of USD75,000 to resolve the alleged violations at the facility.
We remind, Evonik is doubling its global capacity for VESTAMID E, polyether block amide (PEBA), with a twofold approach including a major expansion of its production plant at the Multi-User-Site (MUSC) in Shanghai and an optimization project at its production facility in Marl, Germany, said the company. Construction at the Shanghai site starts in Fall 2023 and will increase the company’s ability for the polymerization of PEBA, a key step in producing the raw material, which is highly demanded by the global, athletic footwear market.