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Glass Maker Settles Clean Air Violations

Thursday, October 1, 2015

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Guardian Industries Corp. has reached a $70 million proposed settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency that would resolve allegations that the company violated the Clean Air Act from its flat glass manufacturing facilities.

The EPA and DOJ issued a joint statement Tuesday (Sept. 29) saying that it had reached an agreement with the glass manufacturer.

The settlement calls for Guardian to spend $70 million to control emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOX), sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM) and sulfuric acid mist (H2SO4).

©iStock.com / Gajus

In the settlement reached with the EPA and DOJ, Guardian agreed to spend $70 million to control harmful emissions; fund a mitigation project; and pay a civil penalty.

Guardian also must fund an environmental mitigation project valued at $150,000 to reduce particulate matter pollution in the San Joaquin Valley in California, which is one of seven states where the company manufactures glass, according to the statement.

The company also must pay a civil penalty of $312,000.

The consent decree must receive court approval and is subject to a 30-day public comment session.

Harmful Modifications

In the complaint—which was filed, along with the consent decree, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan—the federal government said that Guardian had violated the federal Clean Air Act and state pollution control plans when it made modifications to its flat glass furnaces at eight plants throughout the U.S.

Those modifications at manufacturing facilities in California, Iowa, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas significantly increased harmful emissions, the EPA said.

The agency also said that its investigation, complaint and consent decree with Guardian is part of its ongoing National Enforcement Initiative regarding the New Source Review and Prevention of Significant Deterioration requirements in the Clean Air Act.

Flat glass is used in office buildings, homes and in vehicle windshields, according to the statement.

©iStock.com / Sean2008

Flat glass is used in office buildings, homes and in vehicle windshields, according to the EPA and DOJ joint statement.

“Air pollution from flat glass facilities can impact communities hundreds of miles away, which is why today’s announcement is so crucial to address pollution at the source and protect public health,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, in the statement.

“By investing in pollution control equipment and funding a mitigation project that will protect the health of low-income residents, Guardian is setting an example for the flat glass industry for how to control harmful air emissions at its facilities.”

In a statement to the Detroit Free Press, Guardian’s president said his company also was happy with the agreement.

“Guardian is pleased to have reached a mutually beneficial agreement with the EPA,” said Kevin Baird. “We are pleased to be the first float glass company to sign such an agreement with the EPA under this initiative.”

The company is based in Auburn Hills, MI, and employs 17,000 workers in 25 countries, according to the Free Press.

Agreement’s Effect

The EPA said in its statement that it expects the pollution controls required by the settlement will reduce harmful emissions by 7,300 tons per year. That includes about 6,400 tons per year of NOX, 550 tons per year of SO2, 200 tons per year of particulate matter and 140 tons of H2SO4.

By Amadscientist / CC BY Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

The mitigation project in conjunction with the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District will provide incentives to low-income residents to replace or retrofit higher-polluting appliances.

The mitigation project in California will yield additional reductions of particulate matter, the agency said. The project, which will be done in conjunction with the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District, will provide incentives to low-income residents in that area to replace or retrofit inefficient, higher-polluting wood-burning appliances with cleaner-burning, more-energy-efficient appliances.

SO2 and NOX contribute to acid rain, smog and haze, the EPA said in its joint statement. Particulate matter can cause lung and cardiovascular issues, and H2SO4 irritates the skin, eyes, nose lungs and throat.

For their effort in helping the federal government and Guardian reach a settlement, Iowa and New York each will receive $78,000 of the $312,000 penalty, according to the statement.

   

Tagged categories: Air pollution control; Clean Air Act; EPA; EPA; Glass; Glass; Government

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