EPA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) reached an agreement with USX Corp. on alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at the company''s Gary, Ind., integrated steel plant.
The agreement, which includes a $587,000 civil penalty and a $2.2 million supplemental environmental project, resolves a civil complaint filed in February, alleging USX violated EPA regulations on benzene -- a hazardous pollutant -- at its coke by-products facility.
EPA said the company has installed ammonia strippers to control benzene emissions and is now in compliance with EPA regulations.
As its supplemental environmental project, USX will spend at least $2.2 million to remove transformers containing 45,000 pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB''s) from the facility by Sept. 30, 2002.
Companies may voluntarily propose supplemental environmental projects to be included in their EPA settlements.
EPA and DOJ may reduce monetary penalties if they believe a project will cut pollution significantly and the project goes beyond what is required by EPA regulations.
"We are pleased that USX has taken steps to control its benzene emissions and has volunteered to remove these transformers containing PCB''s and dispose of them in a responsible manner," said Francis Lyons, EPA regional administrator.
Benzene is known to cause cancer in people. Short-term exposure to the pollutant can cause drowsiness, headaches, and loss of consciousness.
Long-term exposure to benzene has been linked to various blood and bone marrow diseases, chromosome changes and leukemia.
PCB''s are a group of toxic chemicals, once used widely in industry as coolants and lubricants.
Congress banned the manufacture of PCB''s in 1979 because of evidence that they accumulate in the environment and present human health hazards.
by Virginia Sutcliffe