WASHINGTON— The United States government, the Louisville Metropolitan Air Pollution Control District (LMAPCD), and the state of New Jersey announced a settlement today with Oxy Vinyls, LP (Oxy Vinyls) under which citizens in areas of Texas, Kentucky and New Jersey will experience reduced exposure to the known human carcinogen vinyl chloride.
Under the settlement, Oxy Vinyls, headquartered in Dallas, will significantly reduce vinyl chloride emissions at its plants in Pasadena, Texas; Deer Park, Texas; Louisville, Ky; and Pedricktown, N.J. and the requirements associated with these reductions will become part of Oxy Vinyls’ permits. Oxy Vinyls has agreed to perform three environmental projects at an estimated cost of $1.2 million that are expected to permanently decrease emissions of vinyl chloride by approximately 40,000 pounds per year within five years. Oxy Vinyls is North America’s largest polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin supplier and the third largest PVC supplier worldwide.
Most vinyl chloride is used to make PVC plastic and vinyl products. Exposure to vinyl chloride emissions has been linked to adverse human health effects, including liver cancer, other liver diseases, and neurological disorders. The Environmental Protection Agency has classified vinyl chloride as a Group A human carcinogen.
Oxy Vinyls will also pay a civil penalty of $140,000 to be split between the United States and the LMAPCD and a civil penalty of $200,000 to New Jersey for separate violations in the state. Further, Oxy Vinyls will conduct sampling for hazardous wastes at the Pasadena Facility. The company has also agreed to comply with specific leak detection requirements at its Pedricktown Facility.
“With today’s agreement, Oxy Vinyls will reduce its emissions of vinyl chloride—a known human carcinogen—ensuring that citizens in these communities will have decreased exposure to this toxin,” said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, the Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. “Of particular importance is the manner in which the state, local and federal agencies worked together to achieve the common goal of improving the environment.”
“Today’s settlement substantially reduces emissions of vinyl chloride - a known carcinogen, and achieves compliance with environmental laws,” said Granta Y. Nakayama, EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “We appreciate the cooperation from Oxy Vinyls in stepping forward to work with us to reach this important settlement.”
“We are pleased that this settlement requires Oxy Vinyls to go beyond compliance and take immediate steps to reduce vinyl chloride emissions. The reductions will produce real health benefits for the people who live and work near Oxy Vinyls PVC facilities,” EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene said. "This comprehensive agreement illustrates New Jersey's unwavering commitment to reducing air toxics and improving the quality of the air we breathe," said Lisa P. Jackson, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. "We will continue to run a strong enforcement program and will partner with EPA and other state agencies where collaborative efforts will bring about the greatest benefits for public health and our environment." “This settlement shows that Louisville is serious about making our air healthier to breathe. This important resolution achieves meaningful reductions of vinyl chloride in our community,” said Art Williams, Director of the LMAPCD. Details of the settlement:
Oxy Vinyls will install new stripper trays at all columns at the Pasadena, Texas facility (except the one where the new trays have already been installed), at a cost of no less than $964,000. The Pasadena Stripper Tray project is estimated to achieve 39,820 pounds of vinyl chloride emissions reductions per year of a volatile organic compound (VOC) in an ozone non-attainment area.
After completing installation of the Pasadena Stripper Tray project and successful startup of all slurry stripper columns, but in no event later than 62 months after entry of the decree, Oxy Vinyls’ Pasadena facility is required to meet a residual vinyl chloride monomer limit of 10 ppm, a limit far below regulatory requirements. This requirement will become part of Oxy Vinyls’ applicable facility permits and thereby continue beyond the life of the decree.
The Louisville Railcar Unloading project is expected to achieve emissions reductions of approximately 100 pounds per year at the Louisville facility at a cost of no less than $250,000, through installation of a rail car vapor unloading vacuum system.
The Pedricktown Equipment Openings project will modify two reactors at Oxy Vinyls’ Pedricktown facility in order to reduce the frequency of reactor and chip catcher openings and thereby reduce vinyl chloride emissions. If Phase I of this project is successful, Oxy Vinyls will implement Phase II at a cost of $20,000.
The company will conduct follow-up sampling of centrifuge wastewater at its Pasadena facility to ensure that no hazardous waste is entering its surface impoundments.
Oxy Vinyls will pay $125,000 for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey to design and conduct a study to determine the source of the dust and particulate deposition in and around residential locations in the Camden Waterfront South neighborhood in Camden, N.J. as a New Jersey state environmental project.
Oxy Vinyls will conduct Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) monitoring/tests at the Pedricktown Facility in accord with New Jersey regulations, and also implement a leak detection program at each of its two process lines at the Pedricktown Facility in compliance with federal LDAR regulations.
The Oxy Vinyls settlement is part of a larger initiative focusing on the polyvinyl chloride manufacturing industry, a significant source of vinyl chloride emissions in the United States. The settlement announced today is the third reached to date. As a result of the settlements with Occidental Chemical Corp. in 2004, Formosa Plastics Delaware facility in 2005, and the Oxy Vinyls case today, the vinyl chloride initiative has addressed and resolved alleged violations of environmental requirements and reduced vinyl chloride emissions by a total of approximately 128,000 pounds. A copy of the consent decree lodged today is available on the Department of Justice Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/open.html and on the EPA Web site at http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/mm/oxyvinyls.html. ###