By Miles Moore, Senior Washington Reporter
Salem, Virginia -- Yokohama Tire Corp. has agreed to pay $49,340 in penalties to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for air pollution permitting violations the company itself uncovered and brought to the attention of the agency.
The violations occurred at Yokohama's passenger and light truck tyre plant in Salem, which the company has owned and operated since purchasing it from the former Mohawk Rubber Co. in 1990.
On Dec. 20, 2006, Yokohama submitted an application to the DEQ to amend the air permit the Salem plant received on June 1, 2005, according to the DEQ consent order issued March 8.
Yokohama requested that the plant's status be changed to a synthetic minor facility from a major facility under Title V of the Clean Air Act.
Based on the information Yokohama provided, the agency amended the plant's State Operating Permit on June 14, 2007, to incorporate emission limits below the Title V threshold.
However, on June 30, 2011, Yokohama submitted documentation to the DEQ showing that in 2004 the Salem plant began using a new rubber compound containing silica, the consent order said.
Although the silane already used at the plant contained less than 0.5-percent ethanol, the reaction between the silane and the silica produced additional emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC), the consent order said.
Yokohama should have submitted a Form 7 Permit Application to account for the production change, but didn't, according to the order.
The DEQ issued a notice of violation against Yokohama on Dec. 29, 2011, for not obtaining a permit before modifying the facility to use the new rubber compound and for submitting a permit application that failed to include a complete list of regulated pollutants at the Salem plant.
After meeting with DEQ staff, Yokohama agreed to pay $13,850 for Title V fees and a civil charge of $35,490.
The tyre maker's policy of internal review uncovered the errors at Salem, according to Neil Dalton, director of environmental health and safety at the plant.
â€œThis wasn't something we knew was going on when we got an additional permit,â€ Dalton said. â€œThere was an oversight back then, and we had to clean it all up.â€
Since the time of the permit application, the Salem plant has removed an enormous amount of VOCs from its emissions and its processes, he told Tire Business.
From Tire Business (A Crain publication)