The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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December 19, 2012

Incinerator plant penalized for emissions violations

JOPLIN, Mo. — A Joplin-area plant is to pay a penalty of nearly $600,000 for violations of the federal Clean Air Act via its explosives-disposal incinerator, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

EBV Explosives Environmental Co., according to the EPA, also has made changes to reduce hydrogen chloride and chlorine gas emissions from the plant by about 200,000 pounds per year, and particulate emissions by about 1,240 pounds per year.

EBV was formerly ICI Explosives and Atlas Powder Co. The plant, near Duenweg east of Joplin, for many years has operated a hazardous waste incinerator that was the subject of controversy and a hard-fought opposition campaign in the 1990s. Hazardous waste, primarily outdated military munitions, has been burned in the incinerator since 1995.

The monetary settlement of $580,135, which must be paid by Jan. 17, was described as “a significant amount” by Chris Whitley, an EPA spokesman.

He said the reductions of gas emissions from the plant also “are of a pretty substantial volume,” and that the gas could aggravate respiratory problems such as asthma.

“Any reduction is good; these are significant reductions,” he said.

The plant, located on County Road 180, stores, processes and incinerates explosive wastes such as ammunition, fuses and detonators, and pharmaceutical materials containing nitroglycerine.

Violations at the plant included operation of a “thermal treatment unit” without obtaining a valid permit; exceeding permitted emission limits for dioxins, hydrogen chloride, chlorine gas and particulate matter; and failing to operate monitors used to verify compliance with the permit.

The agreement, effective on Monday, was announced Wednesday by the EPA, which cited alleged violations of the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

EBV in February 2011 notified the EPA that stack tests conducted in October 2010 showed that hydrogen chloride emissions at the plant were above permitted levels.

A consent order reached in January 2012 required EBV to install equipment to reduce the plant emissions. Since the order, EBV installed a scrubber, made changes to the “Propellant Thermal Unit” and completed stack testing to demonstrate that the plant’s emissions are below permitted levels, according to the EPA.

Whitley could not answer questions about how long the excess emissions had occurred before they were reported by the plant. Companies are required to monitor their own emissions and self-report when there are violations. Whitley said he did not know how often the company was to submit the reports.

The Globe’s attempts Wednesday to reach officials at the plant and at General Dynamics, the parent company, were unsuccessful.

“The report starts a process of enforcement, and when we looked further into it, we found violations of their permit,” Whitley said. “This is a civil settlement that came after a series of negotiations with the company to document the violations and try arrive at some sort of outcome. The ultimate idea is to keep it from occurring again.”

The plant is on land originally owned by Atlas Powder Co. and then ICI Explosives, which built the incineration complex. In 2001, the company reorganized and changed its name to EBV Explosives Environmental, doing business as General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems Munitions Services.

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