EPA, DOJ and State of Illinois Reach Agreement with Crane Composites on Clean Air Act Violations

The Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice and the state of Illinois have reached an agreement with Crane Composites, a fiberglass panel manufacturer formerly known as Kemlite Inc., on alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at the company's plastics manufacturing plant in Channahon, Ill.

The agreement resolves federal and state allegations that Crane Composites emitted hazardous volatile organic compounds – styrene and methyl methacrylate – at a rate that violated federal and state regulations and conditions of its state operating permit.

Under the agreement, Crane Composites will pay a $l million civil penalty, of which $200,000 will be paid to the state of Illinois. The company also will pay Illinois up to $150,000 to resolve seasonal emission market program charges.

In addition to the penalty, Crane Composites will construct an enclosure that will capture all emissions from its three production lines and will install pollution control equipment that will destroy no less than 95 percent of those emissions.

“Crane Composites is in the Chicago metropolitan area, which is currently designated nonattainment for the national health-based outdoor air quality standard for ozone,” said Cheryl Newton, acting director of EPA Region 5’s Air and Radiation Division. “Controls required by this agreement will reduce hazardous VOC emissions that contribute to ozone formation and help the area meet the standard.”

The alleged violations were discovered when EPA responded to a citizen odor complaint and inspected the plant in October 2003. EPA followed up with a request that Crane conduct stack tests to determine VOC emission rates from its production lines.

Volatile organic compounds contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog. Smog is formed when a mixture of air pollutants is baked in the hot summer sun. Smog can cause a variety of respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain. People with asthma, children and the elderly especially are at risk.

Styrene vapor irritates the eyes, nose and throat. It also can affect the human nervous system, causing adverse eye effects. Health effects associated with breathing small amounts in the workplace over long periods of time include alterations in vision and hearing loss.

Methyl methacrylate is irritating to the skin, eyes and mucous membranes in humans. It may cause chest tightness, coughing and wheezing. Neurological symptoms also have been reported in humans following acute exposure to the chemical.

A copy of the consent decree can be found at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees/Crane_Composites/r_Crane_Composites_Consent_DecreeFinal.pdf.

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