Engineering News

Makers Of Sulfuric Acid Agree To Pollution Controls
January 13, 2009

Three sulfuric-acid manufacturers have agreed to spend at least $12 million on air pollution controls to remove about 3,000 tons of harmful emissions produced at six plants, including the Chemtrade Refinery Services plant in west Tulsa.

Chemtrade Logistics, Chemtrade Refinery Services and Marsulex also will pay a penalty of $700,000 under the Clean Air Act in connection with plants in Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, the U.S. Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday.

"The companies are expected to reduce harmful air pollution by an estimated 3,000 tons per year, which is well over half of their annual emissions" said Granta Y. Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "Today's settlement will improve air quality for millions of people."

Fred Boeheim, the plant manager at the Chemtrade facility in Tulsa, said being good stewards of the environment is its mantra.

"We actually are installing a good amount of equipment to hold ourselves accountable," he said.

Sulfuric acid is manufactured from petroleum byproducts. It is used in car batteries and the refining industry. The Tulsa plant has existed for about 70 years under different owners and has had several upgrades over the years, Boeheim said.

He said he doesn't look at the agreement as punitive but as a way to reduce pollution output within the parameters of what is technically feasible.

"I look at our relationship with the EPA as a partnership rather than an antagonistic position," he said. "As a result of our proactive stance, the money we have to put in is lower than it could have been."

The government claims that major modifications were made at one or more of the plants, resulting in a significant net emissions increase -- more than 40 tons per year -- of sulfur dioxide.

According to the consent decree, the violations occurred and continue to occur at sulfuric-acid manufacturing facilities in or near Cairo and Oregon, Ohio; Beaumont, Texas; Shreveport, La.; Tulsa; and Riverton, Wyo.

The plants emit sulfur dioxide and sulfuric acid mist into the atmosphere. Both are regulated under the Clean Air Act.

Chemtrade's Tulsa plant is supposed to begin monitoring with the new equipment by Jan. 1, 2010, and to meet the new emissions limit a year later.

"We need to demonstrate we can meet that target," Boeheim said. "That is part of what this year is about."

He said the company's current permit allows an emission rate of 4.4 pounds per ton of sulfur dioxide. The new permit will only allow 1.7 pounds per ton.

Boeheim said it is important to the plant to be a good neighbor. The company recently gave $5,000 to the Berryhill Fire Department, which is the first responder at the plant.

Source: Tulsa World, Okla.

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