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Proposed Astaris waste treatment System Approved

Release Date: 12/1/2000
Contact Information: Gil Haselberger
(206) 553-1094

December 1, 2000 - - - - - - - - - - - -00-065

To further reduce the environmental and health risks posed by waste from the Astaris elemental phosphorus facility, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved the construction of a specially-designed waste treatment plant at the company’s manufacturing plant in Pocatello, Idaho.

According to Chuck Findley, EPA’s acting regional administrator in Seattle, this latest environmental improvement at Astaris will help reduce health risks to both the community and the environment by eliminating the practice of disposing of dangerous wastes in on-site ponds.

“EPA has given Astaris the go-ahead to build this plant because we believe it will reduce environmental and health threats posed by phosphorus waste,” Findley said. “Astaris now has until May 1, 2002, to have their treatment plant constructed, tested, and up and running. Otherwise, they will have to shut down their phosphorus manufacturing operations and face substantial monetary penalties.

Findley continued, “Our staff have been working intensively over the past year to review the company’s plans and designs to ensure they satisfy EPA standards. While this is an important milestone, we have built a number of major conditions into this interim approval. This will insure that we are able to continue to exercise oversight as the plant is built, and that its operation meets or exceeds all of our requirements.”

Once operating, this project, known as the Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR) treatment plant, will treat all of the facility's phosphorus waste so that it will no longer burn when exposed to air, will not release dangerous gases, and will not leach metals in dangerous concentrations. Further, the company is required to dredge all of the plant waste that has gone into Pond 18 -- the newest waste pond at the facility -- and process it in this new waste treatment plant.

The LDR treatment plant project was included as part of the landmark 1998 Consent Decree signed by Astaris’ corporate predecessor (FMC), EPA, and the U.S. Department of Justice regarding operations and waste management at their facility on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation near Pocatello. In the settlement, the company agreed to make numerous environmental improvements in its operations, including building a plant to treat its waste so that it would no longer be hazardous before it was disposed of in a landfill or surface impoundment.

As part of the consent Decree, EPA was required to either approve or disapprove of the plant plans by December 1, 2000.
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