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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ohio DuPont Acid Plant: U.S. EPA Clean Air Settlement May Shut It Down

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Federal officials reached a settlement with DuPont that is expected to cut back some 13,000 pounds of toxic emissions from sulfuric acid plants in Ohio, Kentucky, Louisiana and Virginia. DuPont will spend $66 for air-pollution controls and pay a $4.1 million civil penalty, but the deal reads like an early death notice for the factory on the Ohio River about 15 miles downstream from Cincinnati.

[UPDATE: 7/24/07 -- The MSM finally caught on to this environmental story days after it first appeared in The Bellwether. The reports are HERE and HERE. Naturally, there is no mention these corporately-owned media outlets were scooped by a blogger in their own backyard.]

The plant is located in North Bend , a picturesque village that was the home of William Henry Harrison, the 1st president from Ohio and the politician whose campaign slogan was "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too." Harrison lead an Army that defeated the Indians at Tippecanoe in the early 1800s, thus opening Ohio to settlement by pioneers of European descent. He is buried in the village.

Granta Y. Nakayama, assistant administrator of the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance, said the settlement is a positive step for clean air:

"The action taken today will ensure that those affected will be able to breathe easier knowing these pollutants will no longer be in the air."

But will they really be breathing easier in North Bend? The $66 million in improvements are slated for a Louisiana plant, where dual absorption pollution control devices have to be installed by Sept. 1, 2009. EPA said:

"At the other three plants [North Bend is among them], DuPont has the option of installing appropriate control equipment or ceasing operations to meet the new lower emission limits. The additional cost of installing control technologies at all of the remaining three plants, if DuPont does so, is estimated to be at least $87 million. All four plants will meet their lower emission limits by March 1, 2012."

Terms of the settlement have been filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. It looks like the Ohio plant operates for a few more years, then closes because nobody forces DuPont to put in the Clean Air equipment. Efforts to track down how many jobs are at the plant were not successful. Everything about the settlement became public record and has been available on the US. EPA portal since Friday, but nobody seems to have noticed. EPA says that eliminating the 13,000 pounds of pollution has a $260 million estimated health benefit to the nation. It did not say anything about the cost of jobs that may be lost.

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