ALTIVIA Petrochemicals LLC has agreed to a consent decree that would require it to pay a $1,112,500 civil penalty and improve leak detection and repair work practices to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) at a petrochemical manufacturing facility in Haverhill, Ohio. Emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), such as phenol, from leaking equipment impact the environment and may cause serious health effects including anorexia, vertigo and blood and liver effects.
According to the seven-count complaint, filed on Oct. 5, 2021, in the Southern District of Ohio, ALTIVIA allegedly violated CAA requirements to monitor and repair leaking equipment, demonstrate compliance with regulations applicable to chemical plants and control HAP emissions from equipment as required.
“This case and settlement show that the Department of Justice will litigate vigorously against companies that violate federal environmental law,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The significant civil penalty obtained will serve as deterrent against future non-compliance and the compliance program will require ALTIVIA to upgrade its monitoring and maintenance practices to help prevent future violations due to fugitive emissions.”
“Prevention or immediate detection and repair are critical when protecting health and the environment,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth Parker for the Southern District of Ohio. “The Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are vigilantly ensuring compliance with the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws.”
“This consent decree will benefit communities in Ohio by reducing hazardous air pollution,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore. “The settlement, which resolves years of Clean Air Act violations, will require ALTIVIA to improve its Clean Air Act compliance efforts and to implement monitoring and repair best practices.”
In addition to paying a penalty, ALTIVIA will implement a comprehensive program to reduce emissions of HAPs from leaking equipment such as valves and connectors. These emissions, known as “fugitive” emissions because they are not discharged from a stack, but rather leak directly from equipment, are generally controlled through work practices, like monitoring and repairing leaks. The settlement requires ALTIVIA to implement enhanced work practices, including more frequent leak monitoring, better repair practices and innovative new efforts designed to prevent leaks.
In addition, the enhanced program requires ALTIVIA to replace valves with new “low emissions” valves or valve packing material designed to significantly reduce the likelihood of future leaks of HAPs. The settlement further requires ALTIVIA to control similar emissions from a previously uncontrolled process tank. The estimated cost of these controls is $730,000. The compliance program and engineered controls will reduce HAP emissions by up to 97 tons per year.
The consent decree is subject to a 30-day comment period and final approval by the court. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice website at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.