WASHINGTON— Aleris International Inc., one of the nation’s largest aluminum recyclers, and 13 of its subsidiaries have committed to implementing environmental improvements and controls projected to cost $4.2 million at 15 plants located in 11 states, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today.
The company also agreed to a $4.6 million civil penalty to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act, which will be allowed as an unsecured claim in Aleris’s bankruptcy proceeding pending in Delaware.
Aleris uses recycled beverage cans, scrap, and other materials to produce aluminum in liquid or ingot form. Part of the aluminum production process causes emissions of pollutants such as dioxins and furans, hydrogen chloride, and particulate matter.
The consent decree requires Aleris to better enclose its furnaces to improve the capture of emissions, retest every furnace using model test protocols, adopt model recordkeeping and reporting documents, and install pollution control or monitoring equipment at particular facilities. The settlement is expected to reduce annual emissions of particulate matter by up to 24,000 pounds, hydrogen chloride by up to 870,000 pounds, and dioxins and furans by up to one pound per year. Dioxins and furans, created during incineration, are known to cause cancer and are extremely toxic at low levels.
"This settlement, including the significant civil penalty, will help to protect human health and the environment by bringing one of the country’s largest secondary aluminum companies into compliance with the Clean Air Act’s rules for the industry," said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division. "It will also serve as notice to the rest of the industry that we will vigorously enforce the Act and rules."
"Today’s settlement sets a new standard for aluminum recyclers nationwide," said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "This will ultimately result in cleaner air for the people living near Aleris facilities throughout the country."
In a complaint filed last February in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, the United States alleged that Aleris violated the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Secondary Aluminum Production, which became effective in 2003. The complaint alleged that Aleris failed to design and install adequate systems to capture emissions of pollutants, to demonstrate compliance with federal emission standards through adequate performance testing, to correctly establish and monitor operating parameters, and to comply with recordkeeping and reporting requirements.
The settlement requires Aleris and its subsidiaries to implement pollution controls and take other compliance measures at facilities located in Goodyear, Ariz.; Post Falls, Idaho; Morgantown and Lewisport, Ky.; Chicago Heights, Ill.; Wabash, Ind.; Coldwater and Saginaw, Mich.; Uhrichsville, Ohio; Sapulpa, Okla.; Loudon and Shelbyville, Tenn.; Richmond, Va.; and Friendly, W.Va. The states of Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia and Maricopa County, Ariz., joined today’s settlement and will share a portion of the civil penalty. This is the largest number of facilities ever included in a Clean Air Act settlement involving the secondary aluminum production industry.
Dioxins and furans bioaccumulate, or accumulate in higher than normal concentrations, in fish and other fatty foods and disrupt brain development and hormone systems, particularly in developing fetuses. Hydrogen chloride can be corrosive to the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes, and both short- and long-term exposure are linked to a number of respiratory and other health effects. Exposure to particulate matter is also linked to respiratory problems like asthma and other adverse health effects.
The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by both the district court and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.
More information on the Aleris Clean Air Act settlement is available at: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/aleris.html.