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Enforcement

Innophos Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Settlement

(Washington, DC - January 12, 2017) - EPA today announced that Innophos has agreed to cease sending hazardous waste from the company’s chemical processing facility in Geismar, Louisiana to an unpermitted facility for disposal to resolve alleged violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Innophos will also pay a $1,398,000 civil penalty. 

Overview of Company

Innophos manufactures purified phosphoric acid from merchant grade acid at its facility in Geismar, Louisiana. The phosphoric acid is supplied for use in food and technical applications and markets. Innophos’ corporate headquarters is in Cranbury, New Jersey.

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Violations

During an EPA inspection of Innophos’ facility in Geismar, Louisiana in 2004, it was discovered that Innophos had sent toxic waste streams for disposal at a neighboring facility that was not permitted to receive them. The neighboring facility is a phosphoric acid manufacturer that produces the acid from phosphate ore. Innophos’ specific RCRA violations include failures to:

  • Make accurate hazardous waste determinations
  • Submit annual reports to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality
  • Treat or store hazardous waste in tanks with a permit or interim status at the Innophos facility
  • Perform land disposal determination and notification
  • Ship hazardous waste to a permitted treatment, storage, and/or disposal facility

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Injunctive Relief

The consent decree requires Innophos to:

  • Cease shipments of RP Pondwater waste to any facility that is not authorized to receive it;
  • Certify that facility activities are in compliance with the provisions that are cited in the consent decree;
  • Implement a method of handling the raffinate waste that is in compliance with the consent decree, including pursuing authorization of underground injection control wells that can accept the raffinate waste or utilizing another authorized underground injection control well facility for raffinate disposal;
  • Ensure that the above-ground equipment associated with the well system is in compliance with applicable RCRA requirements if Innophos’ underground injection control wells are authorized;
  • Implement on-site treatment or off-site disposal shipments of raffinate if neither well system is authorized; and,
  • Notify EPA and Louisiana throughout the well authorization and construction process regarding status and progress.

This settlement supports EPA’s National Enforcement Initiative to reduce pollution from mining and mineral processing.

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Pollutant Impacts

RP Pondwater - This waste stream consists of a concentrated acid stream with a pH below two and is characteristically hazardous for arsenic, cadmium and chromium.

Raffinate - This waste stream consists of a concentrated acid stream with a pH below two and is characteristically hazardous for cadmium and chromium.

Innophos’ violations may have led to releases of hazardous waste to the environment, including the Mississippi River. The surrounding community, which includes areas that give rise to environmental justice concerns, relies on the Mississippi River for a variety of purposes.  

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Health Effects and Environmental Benefits

The settlement’s environmental benefits include:

  • Cessation of the disposal of approximately 8.7 million gallons (72,210,000 pounds) of RP Pondwater waste per year historically sent to an unpermitted facility. Innophos has modified its operations and now employs a filter system that generates a filter cake waste that is handled as regulated hazardous waste and disposed of in an authorized facility.
     
  • Cessation of the disposal of approximately 30 million gallons (249 million pounds) of raffinate waste per year historically sent to an unpermitted facility. Innophos is pursuing authorization that would allow it to dispose of the waste in a permitted underground injection well system.  

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Civil Penalty

Innophos will pay a civil penalty of $1.398 million to be split evenly between the U.S. government and the State of Louisiana.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, is subject to a 45-day public comment period and final court approval.  Information on submitting comment is available at the Department of Justice.

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For more information, contact:

Joel Dougherty
Compliance Assurance and Enforcement Division
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 6
1445 Ross Avenue
Dallas, TX 75202
214-665-2281
dougherty.joel@epa.gov

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