Consent Decree Entered to Resolve Clean Air Act Violations at the ABC Coke Facility in Tarrant, Alabama
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (FEBRUARY 24, 2021) — On Monday, January 25, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, in Birmingham, entered a consent decree (CD) that resolves allegations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Jefferson County Board of Health (JCBH) that Drummond Company (Drummond) violated certain provisions of the federal Clean Air Act and implementing regulations at its coke chemical byproducts recovery plant located at the ABC Coke facility in Tarrant. The ABC Coke facility consists of two related industrial plants-- a coke oven battery plant and a coke byproduct recovery plant which is the subject of the CD.
Entry of the CD resolves a separate complaint filed by the Greater Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution (GASP), an environmental advocacy group, challenging the lodged CD.
“This settlement reflects the hard work and dedication of the parties to resolve their differences and to finalize an excellent agreement that provides significant environmental benefits to the community by reducing benzene emissions from the coke byproduct recovery plant and ensuring that appropriate leak detection and repair requirements will be carried out at the plant under the CD and the facility’s permits,” said Carol L. Kemker, EPA Region 4 Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division Director.
Based on inspections of the ABC Coke byproducts recovery plant conducted in 2011 and 2014, EPA and JCBH alleged that Drummond violated federal regulations known as National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants. The proposed CD lodged in February 2019 required Drummond to address the alleged violations by enclosing open waste streams, sealing leaking equipment to prevent emissions of benzene into the air, and developing and implementing a revised Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) program to ensure the company conducts appropriate monitoring and leak detection and repair activities.
The CD also required Drummond to pay a civil penalty of $775,000 and to conduct a Supplemental Environmental Project that requires Drummond to use an infrared thermal imaging camera to detect leaks during periodic inspections.
Subsequent to the 2011 and 2014 inspections, and prior to the lodging of the CD, Drummond began implementing corrective actions to seal and enclose the open waste streams and leaking equipment. Drummond also developed a revised LDAR program meeting the requirements of the consent decree which it began to implement in 2017.
After lengthy discovery and negotiations following lodging to address GASP’s separate complaint, the parties reached a settlement that expands the existing CD’s LDAR requirements so that those requirements will continue beyond the termination of the CD. On January 15, 2021, the parties filed their settlement documents with the Court, and on January 25, 2021, the Court dismissed GASP's complaint and entered the CD. As of the date of entry, Drummond had completed most of the work required by the CD to enclose and seal waste streams and equipment.
In addition, JCBH and GASP entered into a separate settlement agreement that includes, among other things, an agreement by JCBH to direct its share of the civil penalty to a local foundation which provides funding for community-based projects.
A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice website at: http://www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html
More information about the settlement may be found at: https://www.epa.gov/al/drummond-company-clean-air-act-settlement-information-sheet