CINCINNATI (TDB) -- A fertilizer manufacturing plant near Cincinnati has agreed to pay a $750,000 civil penalty for flouting federal Clean Air Act rules, and has agreed to cut its nitrous oxide emissions by more than 200 tons a year. U.S. EPA officials in Washington said they have a consent decree with the plant, now owned by Agrium U.S. Inc., in North Bend, Ohio. A top EPA administrator said the factory put profits ahead of the law.
Royster Clark Agribusiness Inc., which the EPA says is known as Vigoro Industries Inc., ran the plant when the violations occurred. Calgary-based Agrium acquired it last year.
The EPA said modifications at the plant in the mid-1990s were made without installing proper pollution control equipment, which caused the facility to emit more nitrous oxide than allowed.
"This company increased its profits by ignoring environmental laws," Granta Nakayama, EPA's assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assistance said in a statement announcing the civil penalty. "The EPA will continue enforcing against companies that refuse to comply with regulations intended to protect public health, and our air, water and land."
Nitrous oxide, or NOx, is blamed for respiratory problems and can contribute to childhood asthma. EPA describes NOx "as a significant contributor to acid rain, climate change, smog and haze."
Details about the enforcement action are HERE. The North Bend plant makes nitric acid by oxidizing ammonia. Nitric acid is used primarily in the production of ammonium nitrate, fertilizer and explosives. The company has agreed to install state-of-the-art pollution control equipment.