CARTHAGE, Mo. — The Environmental Protection Agency announced settlement of a lawsuit Thursday that will require Dyno Nobel Inc. to pay a $2.9 million civil penalty for the discharging of pollutants into Center Creek from its plant in Carthage and into the Mississippi River at its plant in Louisiana, Missouri.
The EPA announced in a news release that the settlement addresses Dyno Nobel's violations of the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and will require the company to make extensive improvements at both plants to prevent releases of explosives, nitrogen and other pollutants.
The company manufactures explosives at its plant in Carthage and primarily makes ammonium nitrate and nitric acid at the plant in Louisiana.
The EPA estimates that the controls mandated by the settlement will reduce the amount of nitrogen entering Missouri's waterways each year by 1.8 million pounds and that of heavy metals — such as zinc, aluminum and iron — by almost 257,000 pounds. The agency further estimates annual reductions of oxygen-demanding materials at about 187,000 pounds and of suspended solids at 103,500 pounds.
"By preventing millions of pounds of pollutants from entering Missouri waterways, this settlement will help protect the environment and health of nearby communities," said Susan Bodine, an assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance with the federal agency.
Notice of the proposed consent decree was filed Thursday in federal court in Springfield. The settlement resolves a lawsuit brought by the federal government in April 2019 alleging discharge of pollutants — including ammonia, E. coli and nitroglycerin — into Center Creek and the Mississippi River in amounts exceeding permitted limits.
The action further charged that Dyno Nobel violated the Clean Water Act by discharging wastewater at the Carthage plant that included unauthorized explosives and zinc at toxic levels. The company purportedly was disposing of hazardous wastes, including explosives, at both plants without a permit, with the Carthage plant failing to meet requirements for the generation and transportation of such wastes.
Dyno Nobel released a prepared statement acknowledging settlement of its issues with the EPA and promising to continue making improvements at both plants. The statement said the resolution "primarily addresses events that predate 2017, and this civil settlement concludes the EPA's investigation and lawsuit."
"We have worked cooperatively with the EPA and state regulators for a number of years to address these matters. Independent of its work with EPA, Dyno Nobel has implemented upgrades to the facilities to better manage discharges and improve our water systems and waste management practices. We will continue to take the steps necessary for the health and safety of our employees and the communities in which we operate."
The statement said Dyno Nobel was completing an overhaul of its stormwater discharge and wastewater treatment systems at the Carthage plant and "has invested millions of dollars in upgrades and improvements at both facilities that have resulted in significant improvements over the last several years."
The EPA release said the settlement requires the company to develop and revise pollution controls at both plants and to investigate any sources of contamination.
Dyno Nobel must also eliminate discharges of high-strength wastewater at its Carthage plant, modify its sewer system to eliminate the potential for unauthorized discharges into waterways, and perform "enhanced effluent monitoring" and soil sampling for contaminants.
The EPA announcement said the settlement will be subject to a 30-day period for public comment and court approval.
Dyno Nobel's plant in Carthage is the only dynamite-manufacturing plant in North America and employs about 230 people. The plant was first established in 1902 and has been operated by Dyno Nobel since 1993. It previously was Hercules Powder Co.