New Hartford Company to Pay $200K Fine for Failing to Report Clean Air Act Violations to EPA
Company also will contribute $200K to National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Tyler Amon, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division for New England, announced that SCP MANAGEMENT, LLC, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to one count of failing to notify or report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as required under the Clean Air Act. Following SCP MANAGEMENT’s guilty plea, Judge Underhill immediately imposed sentence and ordered the company to pay a $200,000 fine.
According to court documents and statement made in court, Syntac Coated Products, LLC (“Old Syntac”) operated a manufacturing facility located at 29 Industrial Park Road in New Hartford from 2007 until April 19, 2013, when it sold all of its assets, including its trade name to Syntac Coated Products, LLC (“New Syntac”). Since April 19, 2013, Old Syntac has continued to exist under the name of SCP MANAGEMENT, LLC.
Old Syntac designed and manufactured specialty adhesive films for various applications used in the automotive, electronics and medical industries. In its manufacturing process, the company used three adhesive coating lines. When operating, those coating lines emitted volatile organic compounds (VOCs), some of which were also hazardous air pollutants that are suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects. Beginning in 2008, the company controlled its emissions of VOCs and hazardous air pollutants from its coating lines with two catalytic oxidizers. Catalytic oxidizers produce chemical reactions that generate heat and promote the oxidation of VOCs to carbon dioxide and water. The company replaced its catalytic oxidizers with a regenerative thermal oxidizer in April 2013.
The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to create a list of the important categories of stationary sources of air pollution, and to establish federal standards of performance for new sources within these categories. These New Source Performance Standards (“NSPS”) apply to newly constructed sources or those that undergo major upgrades or modifications. As required under the NSPS, Old Syntac performed an initial performance test on each catalytic oxidizer in 2008 to demonstrate that VOC emissions from its coating lines were captured and properly controlled. Following the performance tests, the company was required to monitor, record and report the gas temperature upstream and downstream of each incinerator catalyst bed continuously during coating operations in order to demonstrate that the incinerator continued to function properly over time. Every six months, the company was required to submit a report to the EPA that identified any three-hour periods during which the average temperature difference across the catalyst bed in each of its catalytic oxidizers was less than 80 percent of the average temperature difference of the device during the performance test. If no such three-hour periods occurred during the reporting period, the company was required to say so in the report.
Between 2008 and April 2013, Old Syntac used paper temperature charts to record the upstream and downstream temperatures of its catalytic oxidizers during coating operations. Each day, a new temperature chart was installed and the chart for the previous day was removed, reviewed and preserved. On numerous occasions the temperature charts showed that the temperature difference across the catalyst bed was less than 80 percent of the average temperature difference of the device during the performance test. The company also performed tests of its catalyst blocks that indicated the catalysts were likely not destroying all of the VOCs emitted during its production processes. The company failed to file any reports with the EPA, as required under the Clean Air Act, regarding the temperature readings of the oxidizers. Had it done so, EPA could have investigated the company’s compliance further and required additional performance testing.
In addition to paying a $200,000 criminal fine, SCP MANAGEMENT will make a Community Service Payment of $200,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a nonprofit organization that will use the funds for projects and initiatives benefitting air quality in Connecticut. Additionally, SCP MANAGEMENT has acknowledged that, on one or more occasions between 2008 and April 2013, Old Syntac had the potential to emit hazardous air pollutants in excess of “major source” thresholds. Because of the EPA’s “Once In, Always In” policy concerning major sources of air pollutants, New Syntac or any successor entity will be filing an application for a permit under Title V of the Clean Air Act, which will subject the company to heightened regulatory and reporting requirements going forward.
“When Syntac noticed its catalytic oxidizers may not be functioning properly, it failed to report that information to the EPA,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “A report would have triggered a regulatory review. Not reporting resulted in a criminal investigation. Hopefully, this prosecution will serve as a warning to corporations that if they ignore signs they are polluting the air we breathe, they risk federal prosecution.”
“To protect the surrounding community, the EPA relied on SCP Management to report on the hazardous air pollutants emitted from their Connecticut facility,” said EPA Special Agent in Charge Amon. “The company knowingly failed to report information that showed its emission control equipment was not operating properly, avoided regulatory oversight under the Clean Air Act and garnered an unfair economic benefit over its competitors.”
This matter was investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with assistance from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarala V. Nagala and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Kenyon.