LOUISVILLE, Ky.—The Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District has granted most of American Synthetic Rubber Co.'s requests for modification of its emissions goals under Louisville's Strategic Toxic Air Reduction program.
ASRC Plant Manager Guillaume Coraiton said the company respects the District's decision, which adheres to the legal requirements of the STAR program and provides appropriate safeguards for Louisville's "Rubbertown" community.
"The District's decision also recognizes that the facility fully complies with all plant-wide goals for total emissions under STAR regulations," Coraiton said in a Sept. 15 press release.
"Unfortunately, the facts regarding this request for modification have been misunderstood throughout the STAR review process," he said. "ASRC has demonstrated clearly that the plant is following both the letter and the spirit of the STAR program goals, which has resulted in lower actual emissions over time."
ASRC, a 75-year-old company that became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Michelin in the 1990s, faced public criticism when in May 2017 it proposed changes to the original STAR modification request in December 2015.
The American Lung Association, the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Kentucky Resources Council and Rubbertown Emergency Action were among the organizations that accused ASRC of trying to relax butadiene emissions standards at the plant.
However, ASRC replied that total emissions from its facility were down more than 90 percent since 2003, and that butadiene emissions in particular had plummeted since 2005, when the company installed a flare thermal oxidizer.
The STAR program allows facilities within the District to meet the unmodified plant-wide emissions goals while implementing best available control technologies with modified goals for individual processes, ASRC said.
ASRC's STAR modification request employs the second approach, and applies best available control technologies to certain individual processes related to butadiene, the company said.
"The District granted ASRC's request for modification concerning so-called 'fugitive' emissions of butadiene, the trace amounts that can escape from the plant's valves and connections," the company said.
"By implementing the best available control technologies, ASRC already has reduced this category of emissions by 47 percent from 2013 to 2016," it said.
ASRC's ongoing approach to best available control technologies at its Louisville plant, according to the company, includes the following:
Replacing certain connections with new technology;
- Aggressive leak detection and repair for butadiene components, in some cases up to 16 times more stringently than the law allows;
- Tightening the definition of a leak requiring repair from 500 to 250 ppm; and
- Using engineered components to seal leaks immediately, instead of following the federal legal standard allowing a waiting period.