Sulfuric Acid Manufacturer to Spend $30M on Air Pollution Controls

Mosaic Fertilizer will spend approximately $30 million on air pollution controls that are expected to eliminate harmful emissions from its sulfuric acid production plant in Uncle Sam, La., the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced. The company will also pay a civil penalty of $2.4 million to resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations.

Under a settlement filed this week in federal court in New Orleans, Mosaic will install state-of-the-art pollution control equipment, upgrade existing controls, and make multiple modifications to its operating procedures to meet new, lower sulfur dioxide emission limits at its Uncle Sam facility. In addition, the company agreed that it will permanently cease sulfuric acid production at its Mulberry sulfuric acid plant in Bartow, Fla. It also will not use the emission reduction credits associated with that shut down to enable increased emissions at other facilities. These measures are expected to eliminate more than 7,600 tons of sulfur dioxide annually from the two plants.

The government’s complaint, filed concurrently with the consent decree, alleged that Mosaic made modifications to its Uncle Sam facility that increased emissions of sulfur dioxide without first obtaining pre-construction permits and installing required pollution control equipment. The Clean Air Act requires major sources of air pollution to obtain such permits before making changes that would result in a significant emissions increase of any pollutant. The government discovered the modifications through a request for information to the company.

"The more than 7,000 tons per year of sulfur dioxide reductions secured by this settlement will produce significant and measurable public health benefits for downwind communities," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

Mosaic produces sulfuric acid and combines it with phosphate rock to produce phosphoric acid, which in turn is combined with ammonia to produce fertilizer. Sulfuric acid production results in emissions of sulfur dioxide. DOJ notes that high levels of sulfur dioxide cause respiratory problems and contribute to childhood asthma. Sulfur dioxide also contributes to acid rain, haze, and impairs visibility in national parks. Emissions from sulfuric acid plants can be carried significant distances downwind, causing air quality problems in nearby states.

This settlement is the sixth nationwide compliance agreement in a Clean Air Act initiative to improve compliance among acid production manufacturers. Earlier this year, settlements were announced with Chemtrade Logistics, Chemtrade Refinery Services, and Marsulex. Under all of the acid plant settlements to date, the companies are expected to spend a combined total of about $254 million on pollution control technology, remit almost $12 million in penalties, and eliminate approximately 44,340 tons of sulfur dioxide emissions per year.

Mosaic Fertilizer, based in Plymouth, Minn., is a subsidiary of the Mosaic Company, one of the world’s largest producers of concentrated phosphate and potash.

The state of Louisiana joined the federal government in the complaint and settlement, and will receive $600,000 of the penalty, DOJ said.

The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, is subject to a 30-day federal and 45-day Louisiana public comment period and approval by the federal court. A copy of the consent decree is available on the DOJ Web site at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html. For more information on the settlement, go to www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/mosaicfertilizer.html.

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