WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) today announced a settlement with Guardian Industries Corp. that will resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at Guardian’s flat glass manufacturing facilities throughout the United States. Under the proposed settlement, Guardian will invest more than $70 million to control emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOX), sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM) and sulfuric acid mist (H2SO4) from all of its flat glass manufacturing facilities.
Guardian will also fund an environmental mitigation project valued at $150,000 to reduce particulate matter pollution in the San Joaquin Valley in California and pay a civil penalty of $312,000.
According to a statement from the DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, the settlement is a great example of a cooperative, company-wide effort to reduce air pollution and will mean cleaner air for communities across the country, where glass manufacturing is currently a significant source of the air pollutants that cause serious lung and heart problems.
The settlement resolves allegations that Guardian violated the Clean Air Act and state air pollution control plans when it made major modifications to its flat glass furnaces that significantly increased harmful air emissions. This settlement is part of EPA’s ongoing National Enforcement Initiative addressing Clean Air Act New Source Review and Prevention of Significant Deterioration program violations, and is the agency’s first settlement involving the flat glass manufacturing sector. Flat glass, also known as float glass, is used as windows for office buildings and homes as well as for automobile windshields.
The $150,000 mitigation project with the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District will provide incentives to low-income residents living in the San Joaquin Valley to replace or retrofit inefficient, higher-polluting wood-burning appliances with cleaner-burning, more energy-efficient appliances. The San Joaquin Valley is an area with poor air quality.
EPA expects that the pollution controls required by the settlement will reduce harmful emissions by 7,300 tons per year, including approximately 6,400 tons per year of NOx, 550 tons per year of SO2, 200 tons per year of PM and 140 tons of H2SO4. The mitigation project in California will yield additional reductions of PM. These emissions reductions will result in significant human health and environmental benefits for communities.
Guardian’s flat glass manufacturing facilities are located in Kingsburg, Calif., DeWitt, Iowa, Carleton, Mich., Geneva, N.Y., Floreffe, Pa., Richburg, S.C., and Corsicana, Texas.
SO2 and NOX have numerous adverse effects on human health and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog, and haze. Once airborne, these pollutants can also convert into particulate matter. PM, especially the fine particles, can travel deep into a person’s lungs causing severe respiratory impacts, such as coughing, decreased lung function, and chronic bronchitis. Fine PM is also associated with cardiovascular impacts and even premature death. H2SO4 irritates the skin, eyes, nose and throat and lungs, and exposure to high concentrations can lead to more severe health impacts.