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U.S. EPA ANNOUNCES $600,000 SETTLEMENT OVER MASONITE UKIAH PLANT

Release Date: 1/18/1995
Contact Information: Bill Glenn, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1589

 (San Francisco)--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(U.S. EPA) today announced that Masonite Corp. has agreed to pay
a civil penalty of $600,000 to settle alleged violations of the
Clean Air Act at its facility in Ukiah, Calif.  As part of the
settlement, the company has also installed and agreed to operate
state-of-the-art pollution control equipment valued at over $1.2
million.


     "These controls will remove more than 100 tons of volatile
organic compounds from the air every year, as well as significant
amounts of particulate pollution," said Dave Howekamp, director
of air and toxics for U.S. EPA's western region.  "U.S. EPA will
continue to ensure that major industrial sources of air pollution
comply with our laws to protect public health."


     In a civil complaint filed concurrently with a consent
decree in federal district court for the Northern District of
California in San Francisco, U.S. EPA alleged that Masonite
violated the Clean Air Act beginning in 1988 by constructing a
new manufacturing line without obtaining a permit or installing
the required pollution control technology.  Masonite's expansion
triggered permitting requirements because emissions of volatile
organic compounds (VOCs) exceeded acceptable limits.  In
addition, U.S. EPA alleged that Masonite was violating a 1977
permit that limited the amount of fuel oil the facility could
burn.


     In addition to payment of a $600,000 civil penalty, the
agreement requires Masonite to continuously operate a device
known as a regenerative thermal oxidizer, which destroys 95% of
all VOC emissions captured from portions of the facility.  Under
the consent decree, Masonite is also required to install
continuous emission monitors to check nitrogen oxide emissions
from the stack of the thermal oxidizer.  The company also must
monitor various emissions points in the facility.


     VOCs and nitrogen oxides both contribute to the formation of
ground-level ozone, or smog.  Ozone is an irritant to the eyes,
nose and throat, can affect lung function, and appears to have
effects on the body's immune system.


     Masonite installed the regenerative thermal oxidizer in June
1992, during settlement negotiations with U.S. EPA and to comply
with an order settling odor violations alleged by the Mendocino
County Air Quality Control District.  Masonite's installation of
this technology set a precedent in the composite wood products
industry for control and reduction of VOC emissions.


     Regenerative thermal oxidation allows Masonite to destroy
most of the emissions of both VOCs and particulate matter from
the press and kiln area, and then to recover the heat, resulting
in lower energy requirements.  This technology is innovative in
this type of facility; earlier technology primarily focused on
controlling only the particulate matter.  Since Masonite's
installation of this technology at the Ukiah plant, several other
composite wood products facilities have installed or indicated
that they would install regenerative thermal oxidation to reduce
particulate and VOC emissions.


     U.S. EPA first notified Masonite that it was in apparent
violation of permitting requirements in March 1992, and in May
1992 ordered the company to complete a permitting process to
determine its emission increases and appropriate emission
controls.  U.S. EPA issued a final permit to Masonite in May
1994.  In response to an appeal by citizen groups, an
environmental appeals board upheld the bulk of the permit but
asked U.S. EPA to reconsider a few of its components.  U.S. EPA
is currently completing that review.



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