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Saint-Gobain Containers Inc., Clean Air Act Settlement

(WASHINGTON, D.C. - January 21, 2010) TThe United States today filed two major Clean Air Act settlements to reduce air emissions from container glass and Portland cement plants throughout the country, announced Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance and Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division.

The settlements cover 15 U.S. plants owned by Saint-Gobain Containers, Inc., the nation’s second largest container glass manufacturer, and all 13 U.S. plants owned by the Lafarge Company and two subsidiaries, the nation’s second largest manufacturer of Portland cement. These settlements are the first system-wide settlements for these sectors under the Clean Air Act and require pollution control upgrades, acceptance of enforceable emission limits and payment of civil penalties.

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Overview of Company and Facility Location

Saint-Gobain Containers, Inc. is a manufacturer of glass bottles for the food and beverage industry. Each of the company's 15 facilities, located in 13 states, is covered by the settlement:

  • Burlington, Wis.
  • Cartaret, N.J.
  • Dolton, Ill.
  • Dunkirk, Ind.
  • Henderson, N.C.
  • Lincoln, Ill.
  • Madera, Calif.
  • Milford, Mass.
  • Pevely, Missouri
  • Port Allegany, Pa.
  • Ruston, La.
  • Sapulpa, Okla.
  • Seattle, Wash.
  • Waxahachie, Texas
  • Wilson, N.C.

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The Complaint alleges that Saint-Gobain constructed or made modifications to some or all of the 31 furnaces at the company's 15 facilities, resulting in increased emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and/or particulate matter (PM), without first obtaining pre-construction permits and installing required pollution control equipment, in violation of:

  • The Clean Air Act (CAA) Nonattainment New Source Review and Prevention of Significant Deterioration provisions, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7470-7492, 7501-7515.
  • The State Implementation Plans (SIPs) in each of the states where the facilities are located, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7410.

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Injunctive Relief

More than $112 million will be spent on injunctive relief through 2018 by Saint-Gobain to reduce emissions of NOx, SO2 and PM. The injunctive relief will be implemented for NOx at the 29 furnaces (at 13 facilities) still operating, and for SO2 and PM at 28 furnaces at 12 facilities (both the furnaces at the Madera facility implemented SO2 and PM controls after the 2005 settlement of an enforcement action there).

NOx Controls

  • Installation of one selective catalytic reduction (SCR) unit on 3 furnaces (at one facility -- Dolton, Illinois). This is the first SCR to be installed on a container-glass furnace in the United States.
  • Installation of oxy-fuel technology on 17 furnaces, and oxygen-enriched air staging (OEAS) on 9 furnaces.
  • All 15 facilities will be subject to NOx emission limits of 1.3 pounds per ton of glass produced (for furnaces with SCR and oxy-fuel), or 3.8 pounds per ton (for furnaces with OEAS).

SO2 Controls

  • Installation of dry or semi-dry scrubbers, including at least one cloud-chamber scrubber, at 11 furnaces. Cloud chamber scrubbers use a new scrubber technology that removes particulate matter as well as SO2 gases, and also offers increased energy efficiencies.
  • Implementation of process controls (e.g., changes to the raw material feed) at 17 furnaces to reduce SO2 emissions.
  • All 15 facilities will be subject to SO2 emission limits. The furnaces with scrubbers will be subject to a limit equivalent to approximately 0.8 pounds per ton and all other furnaces will be subject to a limit of approximately 2.25 pounds per ton.

PM Controls

  • Installation of either electrostatic precipitators or cloud chamber scrubbers at 11 furnaces.
  • Implementation of process controls at the remaining 17 furnaces to reduce PM emissions.
  • Enforceable limits for both filterable particulates and total particulates.

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Pollutant Reductions

This settlement will result in the following estimated emissions reductions once all emissions controls and emissions-reduction practices have been installed and implemented:

  • Nitrogen Oxides: 4,162 tons per year (tpy)
  • Sulfur Dioxide: 1,386 tpy
  • Particulate Matter: 364 tpy

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Health Effects and Environmental Benefits

Nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter all have adverse effects on human health and the environment, as discussed below.

  • Nitrogen Oxides - Nitrogen oxides can cause or contribute to a variety of health problems and adverse environmental impacts, such as ground-level ozone, acid rain, global warming, water quality deterioration, and visual impairment. Affected populations include children, people with lung diseases such as asthma, and exposure to these conditions can cause damage to lung tissue for people who work or exercise outside.
  • Sulfur Dioxide - High concentrations of sulfur dioxide can affect breathing and may aggravate existing respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Sensitive populations include asthmatics, individuals with bronchitis or emphysema, children, and the elderly. SO2 is also a primary contributor to acid deposition, or acid rain.
  • Particulate Matter - Particulate Matter, especially fine particles, contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can get deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems. PM is linked to a variety of problems, including increased respiratory symptoms such as irritation of the airways, coughing, or difficulty breathing, decreased lung function, aggravated asthma, and premature death in people with heart or lung disease.

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Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs)

Saint-Gobain will perform two SEPs, one federal SEP and one state SEP, as follows:

  • The federal SEP will require Saint-Gobain to surrender permanently, and request that the State of New Jersey retire, all remaining emissions credits from its closed glass manufacturing plant in Millville, N.J. This would prohibit the further use of those emissions credits in any circumstance including permitting and trading. Those credits include 157 tpy of SO2, 43.3 tpy of NOx, and 46 tpy of total suspended particulates (TSP, or PM10). The SEP will permanently remove SO2, NOx and PM emissions from the New Jersey air shed.
  • The state SEP will require Saint-Gobain to pay $250,000 into a fund established by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality for the purpose of reducing NOx emissions in the Tulsa air shed.

For more information on Supplemental Environmental Projects, please see EPA's SEP Web Site.

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Civil Penalty

Saint-Gobain will pay a $2.25 million civil penalty, with $1.15 million paid to the U.S. Treasury and $1.1 million divided among the twelve state and local regulatory agencies that have joined the settlement.

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State and Regional Partners

The following ten states and two regional regulatory agencies joined EPA in this consent decree with Saint-Gobain: Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri and Washington, plus the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, is subject to a 30-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:

Robert Fentress
Air Enforcement Division
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW (MC 2242A)
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-7023