Two Midwest Plants Agree to Clear the Air, Pay Penalties in Separate Settlements

EPA Region 5 announced on Tuesday that it had reached separate agreements with two companies on alleged Clean Air Act violations, one at a commercial printing plant in Grayslake, Ill., the other at a chemical plant in Riverview, Mich. The combined penalties, including project costs, exceed $500,000.

The agreement with GFX International Inc., which includes a $100,000 penalty and four environmental projects costing $260,000, resolves EPA allegations that the Grayslake company operated its printing plant without air permits that would have required controls on toluene, a hazardous volatile organic air pollutant that was used as a component of a wash-up solvent. EPA notified the company of the alleged violations in January 2008 following a November 2007 inspection conducted in response to a citizen's complaint of an odor from the GFX facility. Since June 2008, GFX has been using a blend of non-hazardous chemicals as a wash-up solvent, EPA noted.

The environmental projects are designed to protect the environment by reducing emissions of VOCs from the plant. The projects include installation of a device to extract solvents from shop towels and installation of an industrial solvent recovery system so that solvents can be reused. The agency noted that breathing high levels of toluene affects the brain and can cause headaches, confusion, dizziness, sleepiness, and memory loss. It added that VOCs contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone or smog, which forms when a mixture of pollutants react on warm, sunny days. Smog can cause respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Children, the elderly, and people with asthma are especially at risk, but these health concerns are important to everyone, EPA said, noting that the GFX plant is located in an area that fails to meet the national outdoor air quality standard for ground-level ozone.

The agency's agreement with Arkema Inc., which includes a $170,000 penalty, resolves EPA allegations that the chemical plant violated federal leak detection and repair regulations at its Riverview facility. The alleged violations were discovered during an EPA inspection. The agency said leak detection and repair regulations require regular monitoring of connectors, valves, and pumps, and if leaks are found, they must be repaired promptly. If left undetected and unrepaired, even minor leaks could result in substantial emissions of hazardous air pollutants that might adversely affect public health and the environment. In the agreement announcement, EPA noted hazardous air pollutants may cause serious health effects including birth defects and cancer, and may also cause harmful environmental and ecological effects.

Download Center

  • Safety Metrics Guide

    Is your company leveraging its safety data and analytics to maintain a safe workplace? With so much data available, where do you start? This downloadable guide will give you insight on helpful key performance indicators (KPIs) you should track for your safety program.

  • Job Hazard Analysis Guide

    This guide includes details on how to conduct a thorough Job Hazard Analysis, and it's based directly on an OSHA publication for conducting JHAs. Learn how to identify potential hazards associated with each task of a job and set controls to mitigate hazard risks.

  • A Guide to Practicing “New Safety”

    Learn from safety professionals from around the world as they share their perspectives on various “new views” of safety, including Safety Differently, Safety-II, No Safety, Human and Organizational Performance (HOP), Resilience Engineering, and more in this helpful guide.

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • EHS Software Buyer's Guide

    Learn the keys to staying organized, staying sharp, and staying one step ahead on all things safety. This buyer’s guide is designed for you to use in your search for the safety management solution that best suits your company’s needs.

  • Vector Solutions

Featured Whitepaper

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - May 2022

    May 2022

    Featuring:

    • WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY
      How Wearable Technology is Transforming Safety and the Industrial Workplace
    • TRAINING: CONFINED SPACES
      Five Tips to Improve Safety in Confined Spaces
    • INDUSTRIAL HYGIENE
      Monitor for Asbestos to Help Save Lives
    • PPE: FALL PROTECTION
      Fall Protection Can Be Surprising
    View This Issue