Leading metallurgicial coke producer SunCoke Energy and two of its subsidiaries have agreed to pay $1.995m to resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations of emission limits at the Gateway coke plant in Granite City, Ill., and the Haverhill coke plant in Franklin Furnace, Ohio, said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department.
The companies will also spend $255,000 on a lead abatement project in southern Illinois to reduce lead hazards in owner-occupied low income residences with priority given to families with young children or pregnant women. The companies will pay a penalty of $1.2m to the United States, $575,000 to the state of Illinois, and $150,000 to the state of Ohio. Illinois and Ohio are co-plaintiffs in this case.
“The substantial upgrades required by today’s settlement will reduce air pollution that can harm public health and the environment,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, in a June 26 statement. “EPA is committed to reducing toxic air pollution from sources that have an impact on the health of communities.”
In addition, the companies will spend approximately $100m at the two heat-recovery coking facilities to install equipment known as heat-recovery steam generators to ensure that hot coking gases are routed to pollution control equipment and not vented directly into the atmosphere. If future emissions exceed the requisite threshold at a third coke facility, in Middletown, Ohio, which is located at the customer AK Steel plant, then SunCoke will have to install an additional HRSG at that facility to prevent uncontrolled venting of gases. It will also spend an estimated $700,000 on equipment to continuously monitor SO2 emissions at the Gateway and Haverhill facilities.
In coke ovens, metallurgical coal is baked into coke, which is basically a form of purified carbon, with that coke then used in the process of turning iron ore into steel.
Further, the companies have agreed to accept more stringent emission limits than required in their current permits for SO2 and particulate matter, and, in the case of Gateway, lead.
Both facilities are located in areas that do not meet federal health-based standards for soot, EPA noted. The Illinois facility, located at the customer U.S. Steel plant, is located in an area that also does not meet the federal air pollution standard for lead.
“SunCoke is pleased to reach an agreement that strengthens our already strict environmental protection protocols at our Haverhill and Granite City facilities, where we operate under stringent Clean Air Act permits,” said Mike Thomson, President and COO of SunCoke Energy, in a June 26 statement. “SunCoke has long been committed to being a responsible member of the communities in which we operate and this agreement delivers on that ongoing commitment.”
The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.