American Zinc Recycling Corp. Settlement
(Washington, DC - February 9, 2021) American Zinc Recycling Corp. (AZR) has settled a federal-state lawsuit citing violations of air, water and hazardous waste environmental laws at its facility in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, delivering environmental and public health benefits, including reduced lead dust exposure, for nearby residents. Lead exposure poses particular health risks to young children and pregnant women.
On this page:
- Overview of Company
- Injunctive Relief
- Pollutant Impacts
- Health Effects and Environmental Benefits
- Civil Penalty
Overview of Company
American Zinc Recycling Corp. (AZR) is the corporate successor of Horsehead Corporation, which emerged from bankruptcy in September 2016. The AZR facility in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, is located on Aquashicola Creek, which flows into the Lehigh River. The facility, which has operated for more than 100 years, reclaims zinc from electric arc furnace dust, a hazardous waste.
Clean Air Act: violations of lead, carbon dioxide, particulate matter, nitrogen oxide emission limits; violations of fugitive dust emissions limits; violations of recordkeeping, reporting and testing requirements.
Clean Water Act: violations of permit discharge limits for cadmium pH, and zinc; discharge of contact cooling water; sampling and monitoring violations; violations of stormwater management safeguards, including failure to ensure process wastewater did not combine with stormwater; violations of Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure equipment, containment, inspection, training, and plan requirements.
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act: violations of hazardous waste management and storage requirements; failure to take necessary steps to prevent release of hazardous waste, failure to conduct required training; and failure to comply with hazardous waste marking, labeling, container closure requirements, violations of the Facility’s hazardous waste storage permit.
Emergency Preparedness and Community Right-to-Know Act: violations of toxic chemical recordkeeping and reporting requirements for lead compounds.
The settlement includes an estimated $4.3 million in injunctive relief to ensure compliance with environmental requirements. Some of these measures include improvements to monitoring of equipment, installing leak-detection equipment, implementing a dust control plan, and implementing a stormwater control plan.
This settlement is expected to result in substantial reductions of pollution from the AZR facility, including an estimated 47 million pounds of electric arc furnace dust over three years.
Health Effects and Environmental Benefits
Since the early 1900s, the Facility in Palmerton has processed a hazardous waste, K061, and zinc. The Agency estimates pollutant reductions over the course of the Decree’s implementation, including reductions of carbon monoxide, lead, particulate matter, copper, zin, and total suspended solids, among other pollutants.
The $3.3 million penalty will be divided equally between the U.S. and Pennsylvania.
The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania , is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comment is available at the Department of Justice.
For more information, contact:
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW (2243A)
Washington, DC 20460
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029