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J.R. Simplot Company to reduce emissions at Pocatello, Idaho sulfuric acid plant

Release Date: 12/03/2015
Contact Information: Suzanne Skadowski, 206-553-2160, skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov

Estimated $42 million settlement resolves Clean Air Act violations at Simplot’s five acid plants in Idaho, Wyoming and California

(Seattle – December 3, 2015) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Justice today announced a settlement with the J.R. Simplot Company that resolves alleged Clean Air Act violations related to modifications made at Simplot’s five sulfuric acid plants located near Pocatello, Idaho, Lathrop, California, and Rock Springs, Wyoming. Simplot will spend an estimated $41.5 million on pollution controls to significantly cut sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions at all five plants and pay an $899,000 civil penalty to resolve the violations. The state of Idaho on behalf of its Department of Environmental Quality is a party to the settlement and will receive $167,000 of the penalty.

“Today’s settlement is good news for Idaho residents and will result in significant reductions of sulfur dioxide emissions from Simplot’s Pocatello plant,” said Dennis McLerran, EPA Regional Administrator in Seattle. “Idahoans will breathe cleaner air thanks to the pollution control improvements Simplot has made and will be making under this settlement.”

Once fully implemented, the settlement will reduce SO2 emissions from Simplot’s five sulfuric acid plants by more than 50 percent for approximately 2,540 tons per year of total reductions. Upgrades at Simplot’s Pocatello plant will reduce SO2 emissions by approximately 825 tons per year. Simplot will also implement a plan to monitor SO2 emissions continuously at all five plants.

“This settlement helps address public health risks for local communities in California, Idaho and Wyoming, and furthers EPA’s commitment to reduce harmful air pollution from the largest sources,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The system-wide pollution controls Simplot will install will significantly reduce sulfur dioxide emissions, which can cause serious respiratory problems and exacerbate asthma.”

EPA and DOJ alleged that Simplot made modifications at its five sulfuric acid plants without applying for or obtaining the necessary Clean Air Act permits and “best available control technology” limits for SO2, and for sulfuric acid mist and fine particles (PM2.5) at its sulfuric acid plant in Pocatello, Idaho.

Short-term exposures to SO2 can lead to serious respiratory problems, including constriction of airways in the lungs and increased asthma symptoms. SO2 is also a precursor to the formation of PM2.5, which causes a wide variety of health and environmental impacts, including asthma attacks, reduced lung function, and aggravation of existing heart disease.

This settlement is part of EPA’s national enforcement initiative to control harmful emissions from large sources of pollution, which includes acid plants, under the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration requirements. This will be EPA’s 13th acid settlement under the initiative and the 9th sulfuric acid settlement. The emission rates secured in this settlement will result in the best-controlled, system-wide emissions achieved in any sulfuric acid plant settlement to-date.

The consent decree formalizing the settlement was lodged with the U.S. District Court in the District of Idaho and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. The proposed consent decree can be viewed at: http://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.

Learn more about EPA’s Clean Air Act acid plant enforcement initiative at:
http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/acid-plant-new-source-review-enforcement-initiative.

For more information about today’s settlement, visit:
http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/jr-simplot-company-clean-air-act-caa-settlement.


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