Rhodia Settles With EPA | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: April 27, 2007

Rhodia Settles With EPA

Company will spend $50 million to cut emission at eight sulfuric acid facilities
Department: Government & Policy

Rhodia Inc. will pay a $2 million fine and spend $50 million to slash air pollution at eight sulfuric acid production facilities, under a negotiated deal with EPA, the agency announced on April 26.

EPA says the settlement with Rhodia is the first of several it expects to make with sulfuric acid manufacturers which the agency alleges violated the Clean Air Act.

Rhodia agreed to settle an EPA complaint alleging that the company modified its plants, and consequently increased its emissions of sulfur dioxide without obtaining the proper permits or installing required pollution control equipment. The Clean Air Act requires businesses to obtain preconstruction permits and install up-to-date emission controls when an upgrade to a facility increases its air emissions.

James Harton, president of Rhodia Inc. and its Eco Services enterprise, which operates the plants, says the company has always believed its facilities were in compliance with Clean Air Act requirements. Rhodia chose to negotiate the consent decree instead of contesting the allegations and facing financial, operational, and legal uncertainties, the company says in a statement.

"The consent decree clearly improves air quality and allows Rhodia to maintain its leadership in sulfuric acid markets," Harton adds.

Rhodia must install new pollution controls or change operating procedures to curb emissions at two facilities in Houston; two in Baton Rouge, La.; and one each in Baytown, Texas; Martinez, Calif.; Dominguez, Calif.; and Hammond, Ind.

When the new emission controls are in place at these plants, their releases of SO2 will fall collectively by 19,000 tons per year, EPA and Rhodia say.

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