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EPA cites Michigan Sugar for clean-air violations

Release Date: 6/7/2005
Contact Information:

CONTACT: William Omohundro, (312) 353-8254

For Immediate Release
No. 05-OPA087

CHICAGO (June 7, 2005) — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has cited Michigan Sugar Co., 4800 Fashion Square Blvd., Saginaw, Mich., for alleged clean-air violations at the company's sugar beet processing plants in Sebewaing and Bay City, Mich.

EPA alleges, among other things, that MSC built pulp dryers at both plants without getting state permits requiring best available technology to control emissions of volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide. EPA said work began on the Sebewaing dryer in 1980 and on the Bay City dryer in 1984.

"EPA's mission is to protect public health and the environment," said Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur. "We will take whatever steps are needed to ensure compliance with the Clean Air Act."

These are preliminary findings of violations. To resolve them, EPA may issue a compliance order, assess an administrative penalty or bring suit against the company. MSC has 30 days from receipt of the notice to meet with EPA to discuss resolving the allegations.

Volatile organic compounds contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog. Smog is formed when a mixture of air pollutants is baked in the hot summer sun. Smog can cause a variety of respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain. People with asthma, children and the elderly are especially at risk, but these health concerns are important to everyone.

When carbon monoxide enters the bloodstream, it reduces delivery of oxygen to the body's organs and tissues. Exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide can cause death or impair vision, hand movement, learning ability and performance of complex tasks. Persons with heart disease have the greatest risk when exposed to this pollutant.

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