WASHINGTON, DC – Carbon black manufacturer Cabot Corp., Boston, has agreed to pay a $975,000 civil penalty and spend an estimated $84 million on technology to control air pollution, resolving alleged violations of the New Source Review (NSR) provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA) at its three facilities in the towns of Franklin and Ville Platte, LA, and Pampa, TX. Announced by the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agreement is the first to result from a national enforcement initiative aimed at bringing carbon black manufacturers into compliance with the CAA’s NSR provisions. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality is a co-plaintiff in the case and will receive $292,500 of the penalty.
At all three facilities, the settlement requires that Cabot optimize 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”, which result from leaks or unintended releases of gases. To address nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution, Cabot will install selective catalytic reduction technology to significantly reduce emissions, install continuous monitoring, and comply with stringent limits. At the two larger facilities in Louisiana, Cabot will address sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution by installing wet gas scrubbers to control emissions, install continuous monitoring and comply with stringent emissions limits. In addition, the Texas facility is required to comply with a limit on the amount of sulfur in feedstock, which is the lowest for any carbon black plant in the United States.
These measures are expected to reduce NOx emissions by approximately 1,975 tons per year, SO2 emissions by approximately 12,380 tons per year and significantly improve existing particulate matter controls.
In the complaint filed by DOJ on behalf of EPA, the government alleged that between 2003 and 2009, Cabot made major modifications at its carbon black facilities without obtaining pre-construction permits and without installing and operating required pollution technology. The complaint further alleges that these actions resulted in increased emissions of NOx and SO2, violating CAA requirements stating that companies must obtain the necessary permits prior to making modifications at a facility and must install and operate required pollution-control equipment if those modifications will result in increases of certain pollutants.
The action also requires that Cabot spend $450,000 on energy saving and pollution-reduction projects that will benefit the communities surrounding the facilities in Franklin and Ville Platte, LA, and in Pampa, TX, such as upgrading air handling units at municipal buildings in the three communities to more efficient technology.