CHICAGO (Sept. 21, 2005) — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has reached an agreement with Stepan Co. on alleged clean-air violations at the company's chemical plant at 22500 W. Millsdale Road, Elwood, Ill. EPA assessed a $5,000 penalty.
The agreement resolves EPA allegations that Stepan failed to properly monitor valves and connectors for leaks from 1996 to the present. Because Stepan uses the hazardous air pollutant ortho-xylene in its manufacturing process, it is subject to EPA rules that require monitoring to detect and repair leaks.
As part of the agreement, Stepan will do regular monitoring of valves and connectors for leaks and, for the next two years, do monitoring and repair work that exceeds EPA requirements.
Xylene affects the brain and can cause headaches, lack of muscle coordination, dizziness, confusion and changes in the sense of balance. It can irritate the skin, eyes, nose and throat and cause difficulty in breathing and lung problems. Exposure to very high levels can cause permanent health problems or death.