Firestone Settles With US, Louisiana in Emissions Lawsuit
BATON ROUGE (The Center Square) – A Louisiana plant that produces synthetic rubber products has reached a settlement in a federal lawsuit that will require the company to reduce emissions, fund air monitoring upgrades and pay millions in penalties.
Firestone Polymers agreed to a consent decree last week with the U.S. and the state of Louisiana over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act and other laws that will require the company to reduce and monitor hazardous air pollutants and pay $3.35 million in civil penalties.
The consent decree stems from a lawsuit by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and co-plaintiff Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality filed in September that alleged the company’s facility in Sulphur emitted excessive amounts of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and other hazardous air pollutants.
The lawsuit also claimed the company failed to comply with equipment requirements for dryers, cooling towers and flares; leak detection and repair; mechanical integrity; and monitoring and reporting. The plaintiffs also asserted violations of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act; the Emergency planning and Community Right to Know Act; and the Pollution Prevention Act; as well as state pollution control requirements.
“This settlement requires Firestone to take concrete steps to reduce emissions of air pollutants from its manufacturing facility in Sulphur, Louisiana,” said Larry Starfield, acting assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This will result in cleaner air for communities in Southwest Louisiana, particularly for communities that have suffered a historically disproportionate burden from pollution.”
The consent decree requires Firestone to meet emission limits, operation and maintenance requirements, equipment controls and limits for hazardous air pollutants from the plant’s dryers. Firestone also is required to conduct inspections of heat exchangers, install controls and monitors on covered flares, and install flaring instrumentation and monitoring systems.
A statement from the EPA acknowledged the company already installed a regenerative thermal oxidizer system to receive waste gases from dryers, reduced n-hexane solvent concentrations and inspected and tested heat exchangers.
“We are always glad to work with our federal partners, the (U.S. Department of Justice) and (EPA), to resolve violations,” Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Chuck Brown said. “We plan to use this penalty and the beneficial environmental project funds from this consent decree to further enhance the environment in Louisiana.”
The consent decree requires Firestone to pay a civil penalty of $2,098,678 to the U.S. government and $1,251,321 to Louisiana, for a total of $3,350,000 in fines.
“Firestone will also complete a Beneficial Environmental Project in Louisiana by funding ambient air monitoring system upgrades in several locations in Southwest Louisiana,” according to the EPA statement.