The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a settlement with Hydrite Chemical Co. for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at a Cottage Grove plant.

According to a release from the EPA, Hydrite Chemical Co., which operates a chemical blending and manufacturing facility in Cottage Grove, “exceeded permit limits by failing to properly monitor fugitive emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs).”

The EPA alleges in a complaint that its staff conducted an inspection at Hydrite in 2017, identifying six alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, resulting in more than 25 tons of HAPs being emitted per year from at least 2014 to 2017.

Hydrite must conduct a leak detection and repair audit and implement training procedures and corrective actions. After the audit, the facility is to monitor and accurately calculate its air emissions and establish and comply with HAP limits. Hydrite must also pay a $480,500 civil penalty.

“EPA takes seriously every company’s obligation to comply with its air permits to protect our communities,” EPA Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede said in a statement Thursday. “Today’s enforcement action against Hydrite Chemical Co. reflects this administration’s continued commitment to ensure compliance with federal environmental laws, and to safeguard our clean air.”

Hydrite spokesperson Thadd Stankowski provided a statement to the Herald-Independent on Thursday that stated, “although the emissions mentioned in the complaint involved incidental releases during normal plant operations, Hydrite worked closely with the EPA to resolve the situation, and implemented solutions that exceed the regulatory requirements in order to further reduce the potential for even minor discharges.”

Stankowski said Hydrite has installed advanced fittings, upgraded equipment and is providing additional training and monitoring measures.

Stankowski said the plant’s emissions are currently “well below 25 tons of HAPs per year,” and the company is working with the EPA to demonstrate those levels and remain a minor source of HAPs.

“At no time did this cause any environmental damage or pose a health risk to the community,” Stankowski said. “At Hydrite, we take pride in the responsible handling of the chemicals we provide, and in ensuring the safety of our employees, our community and the environment. During our 90-year history, our plants have consistently made improvements in our stringent safety procedures, and constantly achieve positive annual state inspection results.”

The proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. To submit a comment, visit https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.

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