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Idaho Manufacturer Enters $151M Settlement for Alleged Environmental Violations

Posted on 7/14/2023 by Lion Technology Inc.

All violations or claims discussed below are alleged unless specifically stated otherwise. We withhold the names of organizations and individuals to protect their privacy.

An Idaho facility that manufactures phosphate products, including phosphoric acid and phosphate fertilizer is facing down a $150,000,0000 settlement for allegedly violating various EPA air, chemical reporting, and hazardous waste management requirements.

The facility's processes generate large quantities of acidic wastewater and phosphogypsum—a solid waste that emits radon, a radioactive gas. Phosphate processing also generates byproducts such as fluoride which are released to the air when uncontrolled.

According to EPA, the facility:

  • Failed to properly identify and manage waste streams as hazardous waste (RCRA),
  • Violated the Clean Air Act related to fluoride emissions, and
  • Violated CERCLA and EPCRA hazardous substance and chemical reporting requirements.

Requirements of the Settlement with EPA

The manufacturer, who settled with EPA over allegations at another facility just a few years ago, just entered into an agreement with EPA that will cost the company an estimated $151,500,000. What makes this particular settlement so large, while others—like many covered in the EPA Enforcement Roundup over the years—top out at five or six figures? What’s different about this case?

Much of the more than $150 million in costs stems from waste management measures and other requirements of the settlement, rather than the cost of the civil penalties. The company will pay a penalty of $1.5M—and will spend approximately $150M on those other requirements. $108M of that $150M must be secured immediately and dedicated to financing the “environmentally sound” closure of the facility.

Lastly, the company must pay $200,000 to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to address excess phosphorous releases to the Portneuf River.

Idaho Manufacturer Enters $151M Settlement for Alleged Environmental Violations

Additional Requirements

To resolve the alleged environmental violations, the facility must:

  • Implement process modifications designed to increase the recovery and reuse of phosphate.
  • Stop using the facility’s cooling towers before June 28, 2026, and replace them with cooling ponds to reduce fluoride emissions to the air.
  • Submit revised TRI forms for the years 2004-2013, including estimates of certain metal compounds manufactured, processed, or otherwise used at the facility.

Get RCRA Training—When You Want, Where You Want

US EPA requires hazardous waste professionals to complete annual training on the RCRA requirements. Lion makes it easy to meet your RCRA training mandate in a variety of formats—nationwide public workshops, convenient online courses, live webinars, and on-site training.

Tags: CERCLA, Clean Air Act, EPA Enforcement Roundup, EPCRA, hazardous waste

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