A multi-state Clean Air Act settlement, reached today with oilseed processor Bunge North America Inc. and three of its subsidiaries, will eliminate more than 2,200 tons of harmful pollution emissions per year when fully implemented. The $13.9 million settlement covers 12 plants in eight states, each of which has joined the United States as a co-plaintiff.
The settlement covers eleven soybean processing plants – in Decatur, Ala.; Marks, Miss.; Destrehan, La.; Emporia, Kan.; Council Bluffs, Iowa; Delphos, Ohio; Marion, Ohio; Decatur, Ind.; Morristown, Ind.; Cairo, Ill.; and Danville, Ill. – as well as a corn dry mill extraction plant also located in Danville, Ill. The U.S. alleges that at some or all of these 12 plants, Bunge or a subsidiary violated the CAA by constructing major modifications that increased emissions without obtaining pre-construction permits and without complying with applicable standards of performance for new air pollution sources.
The settlement, which follows other settlements with oilseed processors, including Cargill Inc. and Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM), will continue the imposition of lower emission standards on soybean processing plants and will also require other pollution reduction projects, including piloting of a new technology to reduce harmful emissions from coal-burning boilers. When fully implemented, the settlement will eliminate more than 2,200 tons per year of harmful emissions of smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter (PM).
"This settlement will result in healthier air in the 11 airsheds where the plants are located. Eliminating over 1,000 tons of emissions of volatile organic compounds, for example, will reduce the formation of ground-level ozone, a pollutant that irritates the lungs and exacerbates diseases such as asthma," said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "We remain committed to working with EPA and the states to bring companies and industries into compliance with the laws that protect public health and our environment."
Bunge, a multi-state agribusiness based in St. Louis, is the North American operating arm of multinational corporation Bunge Limited, and a leading oilseed processor, corn dry miller, and U.S. exporter of soybeans and soybean-derived products. To extract oil from soybeans or corn, Bunge and its subsidiaries use volatile organic solvents. Emissions of VOCs result because some of the solvent escapes to the atmosphere. NOx, SO2 and PM are emitted when fuel is burned to provide heat for the process; additional PM is emitted by handling and preparation of the soybeans or corn.
Once fully implemented, the settlement will cause Bunge and its subsidiaries to reduce their emissions of harmful air pollutants as follows:
· Using engineering approaches appropriate for each plant, the 12 plants' emissions of VOCs, including n-hexane, which is a listed hazardous air pollutant, will be reduced by 1,122 tons per year (tpy).
· A host of pollution control projects at the plants, including the innovative technology pilot, will reduce emissions of SO2 by 574 tpy, of NOx by 278 tpy, and of PM by 258 tpy.
The emission reduction projects will cost an estimated $12 million. Bunge will also pay a $625,000 civil penalty, which will be divided among the federal government and the eight states. In addition, Bunge will spend more than $1.25 million to implement supplemental environmental projects which go beyond mere compliance to achieve additional environmental benefits. The supplemental projects, which were selected by and will be supervised by the eight states, include removal of mercury, lead or asbestos from schools in Louisiana, providing hazardous materials response equipment and training in Illinois and Mississippi, providing environmental education in Kansas, abatement of residential lead contamination in Illinois, and retrofitting diesel school buses or other diesel vehicles in Indiana, Ohio, Kansas, Iowa and Alabama.