Dow Chemical To Pay $294M To Clean Up Air Pollution at U.S. Chemical Plants

To resolve claims filed by the U.S. Justice Department, Dow Chemical Company must spend nearly $300 million to upgrade air pollution controls at its petrochemical facilities.

The Department of Justice, in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental protection Agency (EPA) and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), filed charges against Dow Chemical and two of its subsidiaries, Performance Materials NA Inc. and Union Carbide Corporation on January 19, alleging the companies failed to comply with environmental standards with its release of “oversteamed” industrial flares from its facility. It also failed to meet “key operating parameters,” which should have ensured hazardous air pollutants were effectively combusted in the flares.

A Dow Chemical settlement agreement was announced the same day the charges were filed, indicating that at least $294 million will be spent to place new and upgraded air pollution controls at its petrochemical facilities in Hahnville, Louisiana; Plaquemine, Louisiana; Freeport, Texas; and Orange, Texas. The company is also agreeing to pay a civil penalty of $3 million.

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In a January 20 press release, the Justice Department indicates the agreement will reduce the amount of volatile organic compounds by more than 5,600 tons per year; and would reduce toxic air pollutants by 500 tons per year.

“This settlement will improve air quality in Texas and Louisiana by eliminating thousands of tons of harmful air pollution each year,” Jonathan D. Brightbill, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division, said in the press release. “The agreement, which requires Dow to reduce emissions from its facilities in Texas and Louisiana, demonstrates the Justice Department’s and EPA’s continuing efforts, together with our state partners, to reduce harmful air pollution from unnecessary and improper flaring in order to protect the American public by bringing sources of air pollution into compliance with the Clean Air Act.”

The flares are releases of waste gases, and intended to combust and burn them off so they do not pollute the air. The better operated and maintained the flares are, the more efficient they are at destroying waste gases instead of releasing them into the atmosphere.


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