Ohio Plant Agrees to Cut Manganese Emissions

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (CN) – Heading off a lawsuit, the owner of a plant that processes ore and minerals on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border agreed Wednesday to reduce its hazardous emissions of manganese.

The United States filed the consent decree and complaint simultaneously against S.H. Bell Co., alleging violations of the Clean Air Act in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

Regulators says the storage, processing and handling of manganese materials at S.H. Bell’s facility on the Ohio River in East Liverpool, Ohio, caused airborne emissions of particulate matter containing high concentrations of manganese, which winds can then scatter throughout the surrounding communities.

Though manganese is a common ingredient in vitamins and supplements, it can act as a neurotoxin if inhaled in high concentrations. Side effects include tremors, balance issues, negative cognitive effects and mood changes.

The government’s lawsuit explains that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has repeatedly determined that high concentrations of airborne manganese particulate from S.H. Bell’s facility pose a public health hazard for the roughly 11,000 residents of East Liverpool.

Violations of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act were alleged as well.

S.H. Bell did not admit any liability in reaching the consent decree Wednesday.

The settlement stipulates that S.H. Bell will install air-monitoring stations at its northern, southern, eastern and western property lines.

S.H. Bell must also submit high-definition video of its unloading and transfer operations, implement a material tracking system, and improve dust-control practices, among all other measures necessary to eliminate the danger posed by manganese emissions.

The federal government is represented in the case by John Cruden and Jeffrey Spector of the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the United States Department of Justice, along with Steven Paffilas and Carole Rendon of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  S.H. Bell President John Bell signed the consent decree.

In addition to its uses in steel production, manganese is considered an essential nutrient involved in many chemical processes in the body. It is found in many types of rocks and soil, as well as nuts, legumes, tea and leafy green vegetables.