Air Products agrees to pay civil penalties for waste violations

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Air Products has agreed to pay $1.485m in civil penalties to resolve hazardous waste mismanagement violations at its Pasadena, Texas, chemical manufacturing facility.

The settlement resolves Air Products’ violations of the US Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) when it transferred spent acid from the plant to a neighbouring Agrifos fertiliser manufacturing plant.

As part of the settlement, Air Products has agreed to manage the spent acid on site and not ship it to Agrifos or any other facility not authorised to accept it. Prior to the negotiated settlement, Air Products had constructed a $60m regeneration plant to stop the acid waste stream altogether.

The company also agreed to notify the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in the event that the spent acid is either disposed of or sent off site.

’This settlement eliminates the disposal of spent-acid waste from the Air Products facility into the environment,’ said Ignacia Moreno, assistant attorney general of the US Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

Air Products, a manufacturer of chemicals used in the manufacture of polyurethane and hydrogen gas, operates its facility on a 105-acre tract of property adjacent to the Agrifos fertiliser plant. For many years, the company purchased sulphuric acid from Agrifos and returned a spent-acid stream that Air Products had generated in its operations.

In April 2006, inspectors from the EPA noted that the return acid stream was a spent acid that was being used in part to make land-applied fertiliser, but that Agrifos was not authorised to accept the hazardous waste.