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PCS Nitrogen Fertilizer Clean Air Act Settlement

(Washington, DC - November 6, 2014) - The settlement requires PCS Nitrogen Fertilizer, AA Sulfuric Inc., and White Springs Agricultural Chemicals Inc. to install, upgrade and operate state-of-the-art pollution reduction measures, as well as install emissions monitors at eight sulfuric acid plants across facilities in Geismar, Louisiana (one plant), White Springs, Florida (four plants), and Aurora, North Carolina (three plants).  The three companies will spend an estimated $50 million on these measures, and will pay a $1.3 million civil penalty. 

Overview of Companies and Location of Facilities

PCS Nitrogen Fertilizer, AA Sulfuric, Inc., and White Springs Agricultural Chemicals, Inc. are parties to the Consent Decree.  The Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan is the parent corporation of all three companies and is the largest manufacturer of fertilizer in the world.

The settlement covers 8 sulfuric acid plants in the following locations:

  • Geismar, Louisiana (1 plant)
  • White Springs, Florida (4 plants)
  • Aurora, North Carolina (3 plants)

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The Complaint alleges that the companies constructed or made modifications to its sulfuric acid plants, resulting in increased emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), without first obtaining pre-construction permits and installing required pollution control equipment, in violation of:

  • The Clean Air Act (CAA) Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V permitting requirement provisions, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7470-7492, 7661-7661f.
  • The State Implementation Plans (SIPs) of Florida, Louisiana, and North Carolina, 42 U.S.C § 7410.
  • The CAA New Source Performance Standards, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7411, and the regulations at 40 C.F.R. Subparts A and H, including the SO2 emissions limit and the requirement to install, calibrate, maintain and operate a continuous emission monitoring system for the measurement of SO2.

The settlement also resolves alleged violations based on Louisiana law at the Geismar, Louisiana facility, in violation of: LAC 33:III.207, LAC 33:III.209, LAC 33:III.211, LAC 33:III217, and LAC 33:III.219.

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Injunctive Relief

The companies will spend an estimated $50 million on measures to reduce emissions of SO2 and to install continuous emissions monitors. The companies will also undertake a supplemental environmental project valued at $2.5 million.

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SO2 Reduction Measures

  • Installation and operation of air pollution control processes to reduce emissions of SO2 or retirement of plant(s);
  • Obligation to comply with both short-term and long-term emissions rates; and
  • Installation and operation of continuous emission monitoring systems.

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Pollutant Reductions

Once all emissions controls and emissions-reduction practices have been implemented, this settlement will result in an estimated reduction in SO2 emissions of more than 12,600 tons per year. In addition, implementation of the supplemental environmental project at the co-located nitric acid plant at the Geismar, Louisiana facility will result in estimated emissions reductions of 60 tons per year of nitrogen oxide and 430 tons per year of ammonia.

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Health Effects and Environment Benefits

High concentrations of SO2 affect breathing and may aggravate existing respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Sensitive populations include asthmatics, individuals with bronchitis or emphysema, children, and the elderly. Sulfur dioxide is also a primary contributor to acid deposition, or acid rain.

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Supplemental Environmental Project

The companies will install and operate selective catalytic reduction technology on a co-located nitric acid plant at the Geismar facility and comply with a 0.6 lb/ton NOx limit. This SEP will result in substantial emissions reductions (60 tpy NOx and 430 tpy ammonia), providing real public health benefits by reducing fine particulates that aggravate respiratory disease in an environmental justice community of concern in Louisiana.

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Civil Penalty

The companies will pay a $1.3 million civil penalty. The United States will receive $950,000; LDEQ will receive $350,000.

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State and Regional Partners

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality joined the United States in this consent decree.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, is subject to a 45-day public comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice website.

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For more information, contact:

Sarah Marshall
Air Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Branch
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5

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