BASF Corporation has agreed, under a Clean Air Act settlement filed today in federal court in Beaumont, Texas, to reduce the use of refrigerant chemicals that destroy the earth's stratospheric ozone layer, the Justice Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced.
The company will spend more than an estimated $250,000 to retrofit one refrigeration unit that currently uses such chemicals, replacing them with environmentally-friendly alternatives, and will either retrofit or retire two other units. BASF will also pay a civil penalty of $384,200 to resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations.
Under the settlement, BASF will replace one industrial refrigeration unit at its facility in Beaumont, and will either retrofit or retire two others at that facility. All of those units currently use hydro-chlorofluorocarbons, known as "HCFCs," which destroy stratospheric, or "good" ozone. All replacement units will be able to use only non ozone-depleting refrigerants. BASF has already replaced or retired four other refrigeration units at BASF's facilities in Livonia, Mich.; Greenville, Ohio; and South Brunswick, N.J., at a cost of over $200,000. Combined, the measures that the company is performing will remove approximately 4,760 pounds of harmful HCFCs from their operations.
"Today's settlement demonstrates this administration's commitment to achieve the benefits envisioned by the Clean Air Act," said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "We are pleased that after violating important ozone protection requirements, BASF is now committed to a settlement that will bring the company into compliance with the Act's requirements."
"Today's settlement marks an important step in protecting the earth's stratospheric ozone layer from the harmful effects on HCFCs," said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Lawrence E. Starfield. "EPA will continue to enforce against companies that violate the rules."
The settlement is the result of a complaint filed earlier today against BASF alleging that the company violated Clean Air Act regulations designed to protect ozone in the stratosphere by preventing excessive leaks of ozone-depleting refrigerants from industrial coolers at BASF's plants located in Beaumont, Livonia, Mich., Greenville, Ohio, and South Brunswick and Washington, N.J.
BASF Corporation, headquartered in Florham, N.J., is the U.S. affiliate of BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany. The company makes a wide variety of products, including chemicals, plastics, and agricultural products at the five plants included in the agreement.
The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Justice Department Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/open.html and on the EPA Web site at http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/.