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Air Pollutants from Manufacturing Meet High Compliance Fines and Risk Management Penalties

The problem is pollution. The solution for VOCs and manufacturing with pollutants is more complex -- and can be very expensive when compliance fines add up.

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The Problem

“The effects of illegal air pollution in the Los Angeles basin are insidious, and local residents suffer a disproportionate impact,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “To protect public health and the environment, we will vigilantly track down violators and bring them into compliance.”

“Since Southern California has the worst air pollution in the nation, for the sake of public health we must ensure that all businesses are operating in compliance with air quality regulations and doing their part to help improve our air,” said Barry Wallerstein, Executive Officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

The city of Vernon is one of several densely populated communities closest to the I-710 Freeway, where the effects of pollution are disproportionately higher than in other areas of Los Angeles County. Approximately 1 million people, about 70% of whom are minority and low-income households, are severely impacted by pollution from industrial activities in the area and goods movement along the freeway.

Volatile organic compounds react with other pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and, in the presence of sunlight, can form ozone, or smog. Smog can cause respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain. People with asthma, children and the elderly are especially at risk, but these health concerns are important to everyone.

The Solution

Air Quality Compliance and Risk Management

Federal, state and local regulatory agencies have formed an Enforcement Collaborative to focus resources over a multi-year effort to ensure that businesses and industries in this area are complying with environmental laws.

U.S. EPA is joining forces with Cal/EPA, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board and the California Air Resources Board in the Enforcement Collaborative, which is partnering with other local government and non-profit organizations to improve environmental and public health conditions in these communities.

A Vernon manufacturer was recently fined for operations related to expanded polystyrene foam products that contain pentane, a volatile organic compound that contributes to ozone pollution, or smog.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice and the South Coast Air Quality Management District have fined the Vernon manufacturer $450,000 in fines, claiming the company violated the federal Clean Air Act and state air quality laws at a polystyrene manufacturing facility in Vernon, Calif.

Under the terms of a settlement entered today in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the company is required to pay a $450,000 penalty and must vent all of its manufacturing emissions through an air pollution control device.

According to EPA, the manufacturer failed to ensure that the volatile organic compound emissions were less than 2.4 pounds of volatile organic compounds per 100 pounds of raw materials, a violation of the Clean Air Act. The South Coast Air Quality Management District, which oversees air regulations in the Los Angeles Air Basin, allows polystyrene foam product manufacturers to meet this federally-enforceable emissions limit by using raw materials that release less volatile organic compounds or through the use of an adequate air pollution control device.

Both federal regulators and the South Coast Air Quality Management District also assert that the company installed and operated air-pollution-emitting equipment without obtaining the necessary permits and that the facility did not properly vent volatile organic compounds to air pollution control equipment.

Edited by Carolyn Allen
| air quality | risk management | environmental risk management | environmental management systems |

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