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EPA, DOJ settle with carbon black producer Columbian Chemicals Company

WASHINGTON — The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced today a settlement resolving Clean Air Act claims by the United States and the states of Kansas and Louisiana against carbon black manufacturer Columbian Chemicals Company. Under the settlement, the company has agreed to install and operate state-of-the-art pollution control technologies to reduce emissions of harmful air pollutants.

In addition to the controls, estimated to cost $94 MM, Columbian will pay civil penalties of $650,000 and perform environmental mitigation projects valued at $375,000. This settlement resolves claims, asserted in a complaint filed today in federal court, that Columbian failed to obtain permits and install appropriate emissions reduction technology at its two carbon black production facilities located in Hickock, Kansas and North Bend, Louisiana, as required under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration provisions of the Clean Air Act.

Carbon black is a fine carbonaceous powder used in tires, plastics, rubber, inkjet toner and cosmetics.  Production of carbon black creates large amounts of nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter. NOx and SO2 have numerous adverse health effects and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog and haze. These pollutants are converted in the air to particulate matter that can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts, and premature death.

Marietta, Georgia-based Columbian will be required to install flue gas scrubbing technology to reduce SO2 emissions and selective catalytic reduction technology to reduce NOx emissions at its largest facility, in North Bend, Louisiana. At its Hickok, Kansas facility Columbian will be required meet a limit on the sulfur content of its feedstock oil and reduce emissions of NOx.

EPA projects this settlement will result in a reduction of SO2 emissions of approximately 5,889 tpy; a reduction of NOx emissions of approximately 465 tpy; and a reduction of emissions of particulate matter, as compared to Columbian’s 2015 emissions.

The proposed settlement, lodged in the US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, is subject to a 30-day federal public comment period and a 45-day Louisiana public comment period and final court approval.  Information on submitting comments is available at the DOJ website at: www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees


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