Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2015 - 07:42:25

$3M fine to settle pollution case
By Staff Reports
Apr 2, 2013, 10:28

HOPEWELL — A division of Honeywell has agreed to pay a $3 million civil penalty to settle allegations that it violated the Clean Air Act at its Hopewell plant, the Justice Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday. Honeywell Resins and Chemicals LLC has also agreed to improve the plant’s air pollution controls.

The proposed consent decree filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond resolves alleged violations of federal and state air pollution regulations at the Hopewell plant located at 905 E Randolph Road. It is the world’s largest single-site producer of caprolactam used in the production of nylon, and ammonium sulfate used for fertilizer.  According to EPA and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the facility violated Clean Air Act limits on emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx), benzene and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter. The plant also allegedly failed to comply with requirements to upgrade air pollution control equipment, to detect and repair leaks of hazardous air pollutants, and to develop safeguards on benzene waste.

Nitrogen oxide is a typical component of pollution from combustion and can cause problems with respiratory issues such as asthma, according to the EPA. Benzene is found on fuels and is used in making plastics. The Centers for Disease Control says long-term exposure to benzene can cause problems with the bone marrow, such as anemia and hurt the ability to fight infections. High levels can also cause cancer.

Notices of violation were originally to Honeywell on March 11, 2009, and Aug. 21, 2009, according to the agreement.

In addition to the $3 million civil penalty, Honeywell has agreed to reduce harmful air pollutants, install selective catalytic reduction at four production trains at the facility, conduct a third-party benzene waste operations audit, and implement an enhanced leak detection and repair program at the facility.  Honeywell will also perform a mitigation project valued at approximately $1 million at the facility.

The settlement would reduce annual emissions of NOx by about 6,260 tons, and cut annual emissions of benzene, other VOCs and hazardous air pollutants by 100 tons. The estimated cost to address these emissions will be approximately $66 million dollars.

Deadlines for improvements to the plant are spaced out between now and June 2019, according to the agreement.

The civil penalty will be split evenly between Virginia and the United States.

As part of the settlement, Honeywell did not admit liability for the violations, but has certified that it is now in compliance with applicable Clean Air Act regulations. The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.  

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