PVC manufacturers reach settlement regarding breach of EPA regulations

Shintech Inc. and its subsidiary K-Bin Inc., have agreed in a settlement announced by the Justice Department and EPA to spend $4.8 million to comply with the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) at their manufacturing facilities in Freeport, TX.
By Control Engineering Staff January 20, 2009

Freeport, TX – Shintech Inc. and its subsidiary K-Bin Inc., have agreed in a settlement announced by the Justice Department and EPA to spend $4.8 million to comply with the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) at their manufacturing facilities in Freeport, TX.
The companies also have agreed to pay a $2.585 million civil penalty to resolve environmental violations under the Clean Air Act, RCRA, and the Clean Water Act, and to perform $4.7 million worth of supplemental environmental projects.
Shintech and K-Bin have agreed to reduce emissions of ozone-depleting refrigerants by replacing six refrigeration units with units that use refrigerants that do not harm the atmosphere’s protective stratospheric ozone layer. In addition, the two companies have agreed to third-party audits of their handling of ozone-depleting refrigerants, increased training, and other steps to ensure compliance with EPA regulations under the Clean Air Act.
Under RCRA, the federal hazardous waste law, Shintech will close a lagoon and a drying bed that were not designed to handle hazardous waste, implement a series of audits and reviews of its hazardous-waste handling practices, and add a treatment tank to its waste-water treatment system. The overall cost of the steps the companies will take to comply with the Clean Air Act and RCRA is estimated to be approximately $4.8 million.
Shintech also has agreed to perform three environmental projects as part of the settlement. Shintech will add at least 300 acres of forest and wetlands to Austin’s Woods preserve (also called the Colombia Bottomlands area) managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Shintech will create a recycling program in the city of Houston that will pick up and recycle, at no cost to residents, residential appliances containing ozone-depleting refrigerants. Finally, Shintech will retrofit part of its manufacturing process to reduce emissions of polyvinyl chloride by 10,000 pounds per year. Altogether, the three projects are estimated to cost at least $4.7 million.
The settlement resolves allegations made in a complaint filed simultaneously with the settlement by the Justice Department on behalf of the EPA. The complaint alleged that Shintech and K-Bin failed to comply with provisions of the Clean Air Act that require the prompt detection and repair of refrigeration units that leak ozone-depleting chemicals.
The appliance-recycling project is designed to reduce emissions of ozone-depleting chemicals from residential appliances in Houston, which presently does not have a program to deal with old and abandoned appliances containing ozone-depleting chemicals.
RCRA imposes strict requirements that, among other things, are designed to prevent the disposal of hazardous wastes in earthen structures. The complaint alleges that Shintech violated RCRA by placing lab waste into two structures with earthen bottoms.
A copy of the consent decree is available on the Justice Department Web site at
www.usdoj.gov/enrd/903.htm
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