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J.R. Simplot agrees to pay EPA $525,000 to resolve Clean Air Act violations

Release Date: 2/12/2004
Contact Information: Laura Gentile, desk 415/947-4227, cell 415/760-9161, gentile.laura@epa.gov

Nevada facility will also install $2 million in equipment to reduce air pollution

SAN FRANCISCO – The J.R. Simplot Company agreed today to pay the EPA $525,000 and install $2 million in air pollution control equipment to resolve violations of the federal Clean Air Act at its silica sand mining facility in Overton, Nev.

"This settlement brings the company back into compliance with federal requirements," said Deborah Jordan, director of the EPA's air division in San Francisco. "Simplot’s actions to reduce emissions are a step in the right direction for Clark County air”

The EPA discovered the violations while reviewing a proposed permit for the company’s Overton facility. The company is based in Boise, Idaho. With the permission of the local air district, the company had removed equipment in 1988 required by the federal Clean Air Act to control emissions of air pollutants.

The Overton facility dries silica sand in a coal-fire dryer, a process which generates sulfur dioxide emissions. Without the required pollution control equipment, the facility could emit an additional 150 tons of sulfur dioxide per year.

The Department of Justice lodged the consent decree today which outlines the terms of the agreement, starting a 30-day public comment period. Once the agreement has been finalized, the company will pay the EPA’s penalty within 30 days, install air pollution control equipment within one year and obtain a permit from the local air district.

"The Department of Justice is committed to the enforcement of the Clean Air Act," said Daniel G. Bogden, U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada. "The provisions of the settlement will lead to great reductions in sulfur dioxide emissions. In addition, the substantial penalty should serve as a deterrent for others."

Sulfur dioxide emissions can cause injury to both human health and the environment. High concentrations of sulfur dioxide can cause serious health problems, including respiratory illness. Sulfur dioxide pollution causes acid rain, which damages waterways and vegetation, and also causes decreased visibility, which has been a problem at many national parks, including the Grand Canyon.