WASHINGTON—Continental Carbon Co. has agreed to pay more than $99 million to mitigate alleged excessive emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.
By undertaking the plant improvements mandated in the settlement, Continental estimates it will spend approximately $98 million.
In turn, the EPA estimates those pollution controls will reduce emissions from the three Continental Carbon plants involved in the case by approximately 6,278 tons of sulfur dioxide and 1,590 tons of nitrogen oxide annually.
The plant improvements will include the installation, upgrade and operation of state-of-the-art pollution control devices, the EPA said.
In the consent decree announced March 23 by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice, Continental Carbon also will pay a $650,000 civil penalty. The EPA and DOJ will share that money with the states of Alabama and Oklahoma, which were co-plaintiffs in the case.
In addition, Continental Carbon must also spend $550,000 on environmental projects to alleviate the harmful effects of the alleged air pollutions. Some of that money must go to help local communities, including at least $25,000 on energy efficiency projects for Phenix City, Ala., Ponca City, Okla., and Sunray, Texas—communities where the three Continental Carbon facilities in the case are located.
The EPA has investigated all 15 carbon black manufacturing plants in the U.S., according to Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
“This settlement brings another major carbon black company into compliance with a law that protects clean air for American communities,” Giles said. “EPA is committed to improving public health and leveling the playing field for companies that follow the law.”
Continental Carbon said it would install the new air quality control equipment at Ponca City, Sunray and Phenix City in stages over the next six years.
“Continental Carbon Co. has always understood and accepted the responsibilities of environmental stewardship, and we are well-equipped to meet these new emissions levels in each facility,” said Continental Carbon President Dennis J. Hetu.
“We sincerely appreciate our customers' continued loyalty, and look forward to their support of our plan to reduce our environmental footprint while maintaining our long-term commitment to meet our customers' future carbon black needs,” Hetu said.
Continental Carbon is the second U.S. carbon black company to sign a consent decree with the EPA. Late in November 2013, Cabot Corp. agreed to pay a $975,000 civil penalty and spend $64 million to control air pollution at its carbon black facilities in Franklin and Villa Platte, La., and Pampa, Texas. Cabot also agreed to spend $450,000 on energy saving and pollution control projects in those communities.
The entire 107-page consent decree between Continental Carbon and the EPA can be found at http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/continental-carbon-company-clean-air-act-settlement.