Houston, Texas – Continental Carbon Co. has agreed a settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Justice, under which the company will invest $98 million (€89m) to reduce the environmental impact of its carbon black facilities.
The Houston-headquartered company has also agreed to pay $650,000 in civil penalties under the settlement agreement, while insisting that it had “always maintained full compliance with all [EPA] requirements.”
According to the EPA, the settlement will resolve claims that Houston-based Continental violated the Clean Air Act by modifying their facilities in a way that caused the release of excess sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx).
The plant improvements will involve the staged installation of pollution-control equipment, over the next six years, at the company’s facilities in Phenix City, Alabama; Ponca City, Oklahoma; and Sunray, Texas.
In line with a proposed consent decree with the EPA, Continental Carbon will also invest $550,000 in environmental mitigation projects at the facilities and for communities living near its facilities.
The EPA expects that the actions required by the settlement will reduce emissions of sulphur dioxide by around 6,278 tonnes per year and of nitrogen oxide by 1,590 tonnes per year.
Continental Carbon’s settlement is linked to an EPA national enforcement initiative, aimed at reducing emissions from chemical and petrochemical sources. A particular focus is on communities that have been “disproportionately impacted” by pollution.
Because the oil used to make carbon black is high in sulphur, its production creates large amounts of nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter, said the EPA.
“This settlement brings another major carbon black company into compliance with a law that protects clean air for American communities,” commented Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the EPA’s office of enforcement and compliance assurance.
“By investigating all 15 carbon black manufacturing plants in the US, EPA is committed to improving public health and levelling the playing field for companies that follow the law,” Giles added.
With this settlement, six of the 15 facilities will be covered by consent decrees with EPA. In 2013, the EPA announced the first national carbon black settlement with Boston-based Cabot Corp., the second largest carbon black manufacturer in the US.
Continental Carbon "has always understood and accepted the responsibilities of environmental stewardship and we are well-equipped to meet these new emissions levels in each facility as agreed to with the USEPA,” said Dennis Hetu, the company's president.
“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,” added Hetu.