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EPA, Occidental Agree to 26-Ton Reduction of Vinyl Chloride Emissions in Pottstown - Company to Implement $900,000 in Pollution Reduction Projects, Pay $150,000 Penalty

Release Date: 7/14/2004
Contact Information: David Sternberg, (215) 814-5548

David Sternberg, (215) 814-5548

PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has reached a settlement with Occidental Chemical Corp. for alleged environmental violations at the company’s plant in Pottstown, Pa..

In a consent agreement with EPA, Occidental has agreed to pay a $150,000 penalty and complete three special projects designed to reduce both the plant’s air emissions of vinyl chloride, a known human carcinogen, and the plant’s industrial wastewater flow to the Borough of Pottstown’s Publicly Owned Treatment Works.

“We are pleased that Occidental is taking these actions to reduce vinyl chloride emissions. These projects, which go beyond what is required by law, are an important step towards improving public heath and environment for the residents of Pottstown and the surrounding communities,” said Donald S. Welsh, regional administrator for the EPA mid-Atlantic Region.

The settlement resolves EPA’s October 2003 complaint, as amended May 2004, which alleged violations of a variety of environmental statutes and regulations discovered in the agency’s January 2003 multimedia inspection of Occidental’s polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant in Pottstown, Pa.

In addition to the $150,000 penalty, Occidental will spend more than $900,000 on three supplemental environmental projects, or SEPs, that will substantially reduce pollution discharges from the Pottstown plant.

First, the company has agreed to expend at least $850,000 in process changes and equipment upgrades which will permanently reduce the plant’s permitted emissions of vinyl chloride by 38 percent.
Second, the company has agreed to an amendment to its Pennsylvania-issued Title V air permit, which will reduce its yearly permitted vinyl chloride emissions from 75 tons to 48.5 tons. Occidental will also permanently retire all emission credits generated by this reduction, resulting in an overall air quality improvement in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Third, Occidental will implement equipment and operational changes, designed to reduce the volume of industrial wastewater discharges from the plant to the Pottstown Publicly Owned Treatment Works.

The multimedia investigation of Occidental’s Pottstown, Pa. facility is part of a new EPA mid-Atlantic enforcement approach which evaluates how pollutants, in this case, vinyl chloride, move from one medium to another, such as from water to air, through the production process and the regulations that apply. EPA uses this approach to produce better, more protective, public health and environmental results.

As part of the settlement announced today, the company neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations.