The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has assessed a $1.7 million penalty against PQ Corporation, located in Chester, Delaware County, for air quality violations. The penalty covers violations that span from August 2011 to June 2013. The penalty comes on the heels of a prior agreement PQ made with DEP in 2009 to equip its facility with Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems (CEMS) to demonstrate compliance with its air quality permits.

Pursuant to the 2009 agreement, PQ equipped its sodium silicate furnace with a CEMS to track emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and opacity. A CEMS is a combination of hardware and software components. It is used to continuously monitor and record values for compliance with various factors, including emissions standards (for example compliance with carbon dioxide output limits), informational reporting requirements (e.g. to ensure data is continuously available), or operational criterion (e.g. temperature or throughput). CEMS units include all the necessary components to monitor and record data, including the measurement interface, calibration device and data handling apparatus.

After installation of the CEMS, DEP received quarterly emissions reports from PQ. These reports demonstrated that PQ had exceeded several emissions limits for several pollutants and did not satisfy the data availability requirements of its systems. Specifically, PQ was assessed with a penalty for violations including, but not limited to:

  • Excessive short term emissions limit of CO
  • Excessive short term emissions limit of NOx
  • Excessive short term emissions limit of the opacity limit
  • Excessive long term 12 month rolling sum of CO
  • Excessive long term 12 month rolling sum of NOx
  • Lack of data availability

The penalty highlights the fact that companies cannot stop at installing state-of-the-art pollution control systems, even if they are doing so in order to comply with a preceding DEP Order. Companies must continuously monitor and control their emissions to ensure that they are within the limits prescribed by their permits.

Philadelphia Environmental Compliance Lawyers at Michelman & Bricker, P.C. Help Companies Comply With Permitting Requirements

Philadelphia environmental lawyers at Michelman & Bricker, P.C. have considerable experience in all aspects of environmental law. We advise our clients on permit applications, regulatory compliance and when necessary, we defend against federal and state government administrative actions, lawsuits and criminal environmental prosecutions.

For example, we previously obtained plan approval for a New Source under the Clean Air Act for emissions from installation of a new press at Rotogravure Printing facility, and obtained administrative permit amendment for a plan approval for emissions from a parts washing unit (which was part of a Title V permit).

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