News and Events Involving Environmental Law, Published by Chicago Environmental Attorney Dave Scriven-Young
of Peckar & Abramson, P.C. -- (312) 239-9722

US Department of Justice Announces Changes to Consent Decree Settling Case Against Heat Recovery Coking Facility

On February 13, 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a Federal Register notice that it lodged a proposed Second Amendment to Consent Decree with the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois in its lawsuit against companies that included the Gateway Energy & Coke Company.  The United States, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the State of Illinois filed a complaint under the Clean Air Act asserting claims relating to two Midwestern heat recovery coking facilities, one of which is located in Granite City, Illinois (the “Gateway Facility”).  The United States and the State of Illinois sought civil penalties and injunctive relief against the owners and operators of the Gateway Facility.

On November 10, 2014, the Court entered a Consent Decree that required (1) installation of heat recovery steam generators (“HRSGs”) to provide redundancy that will allow hot coking gases to be routed to a pollution control device instead of vented directly to the atmosphere in the event of equipment downtime, and (2) installation  of continuous emissions monitors for sulfur dioxide at one bypass vent  per process unit (one at the Gateway Facility).

The Consent Decree allows Defendants 720 hours of “tie-in” time to complete installation of the Redundant HRSGs.  Defendants have represented that installation and operation of the Redundant HRSGs have exacerbated corrosion-related issues at the spray dryer absorbers (“SDAs”); therefore, Defendants need to replate the SDAs to upgrade their metallurgy and to make them more corrosion-resistant, as well as assist in effective operation of the SDAs.  To that end, the Second Amendment would allow Defendants to use tie-in hours to address the corrosion at the SDAs, while at the same time requiring Defendants to mitigate the excess emissions associated with the replating project.  As to mitigation, the Second Amendment requires Defendants to: (1) Meet lower bypass venting emissions limits relating to sulfur dioxide at the Gateway Facility than were required by the Consent Decree, and seek to incorporate such lower limits into construction permit(s) and Title V operating permits; and (2) continue to operate the flue gas desulfurization units at the two facilities to over-control sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and lead from the main stacks by, among other things, injecting excess lime slurry into the SDAs.  The proposed Second Amendment would also streamline reporting obligations under the Consent Decree, and add reporting requirements relating to mitigation of excess emissions resulting from the SDA replating project.

The Second Amendment is now open for public comment.

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