DENVER- Under a settlement announced by the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the State of Colorado, Rocky Mountain Bottle Company, LLC (RMBC) has agreed to install emissions controls on the glass furnaces at its Wheat Ridge, Colorado glass bottle manufacturing facility that will eliminate the emission of more than 200 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 150 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) per year and improve compliance with federal and state clean air laws. Emissions of these pollutants can cause serious respiratory illnesses, aggravate asthma and contribute to the formation of ground level ozone, or smog.
The State of Colorado, through its Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, was an active partner in the settlement.
EPA and the State of Colorado allege that RMBC completed a glass-melting furnace expansion project at its facility in Wheat Ridge, a suburb of Denver, resulting in increased emissions of NOx and SO2, without first obtaining pre-construction permits or installing the required pollution control equipment. Wheat Ridge is located in the Denver Metro/North Front Range region, which is categorized as a “moderate” ozone nonattainment area. NOx, along with carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds, are ozone precursors, meaning that in the presence of sunlight, they react in the atmosphere to form ground level ozone. Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems, particularly for children, the elderly, and people of all ages who have lung diseases such as asthma.
The agreement requires RMBC to operate emissions controls to reduce NOx and SO2 pollution. The controls are designed to reduce RMBC’s NOx emissions by approximately 60 percent from previous levels. RMBC must also route all emissions through a continuously operating scrubber system to reduce SO2 emissions, also by roughly 60 percent from prior amounts. RMBC will also need to continue to operate monitoring systems that will allow it to monitor NOx and SO2 emissions on an hourly basis. The NOx and SO2 pollution controls must be fully operational by the end of March 2019. RMBC has also agreed to pay a $475,000 civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.
NOx and SO2, two key pollutants emitted from glass plants, have numerous adverse effects on human health. Reducing these harmful air pollutants will benefit the communities located near the facility, particularly those disproportionately impacted by environmental risks and vulnerable populations, including children.