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Potash to Pay $53M to Settle Clean Air Act Case

(CN) - The Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, the world's largest fertilizer producer, has agreed to pay over $53 million to settle claims its facilities in the United States routinely violated the Clean Air Act.

The settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice requires PCS Nitrogen Fertilizer, AA Sulfuric Inc., and White Springs Agricultural Chemicals Inc. to install, upgrade and operate state-of-the-art pollution reduction measures, as well as install emissions monitors at eight sulfuric acid plants across facilities in Geismar, Louisiana, White Springs, Florida, and Aurora, North Carolina.

The three companies will spend an estimated $50 million on these measures, and will pay a $1.3 million civil penalty.

"This agreement, the largest so far in our ongoing Clean Air Act enforcement efforts against sulfuric-acid producers, will ensure cleaner air for citizens across the Southeast and will send a strong signal to the industry that noncompliance has serious consequences," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Sam Hirsch for the Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division in a written statement..

The EPA said it expects the settlement reduce harmful emissions by over 13,090 tons per year, which includes approximately 12,600 tons per year of sulfur dioxide, 430 tons per year of ammonia and 60 tons per year of nitrogen oxide.

The settlement also includes a supplemental environmental project, estimated to cost between $2.5 and $4 million, to protect the community around a PCS Nitrogen nitric acid plant in Geismar, Louisiana.

Sulfur dioxide, the predominant pollutant emitted from sulfuric acid plants, has numerous adverse effects on human health and is a significant contributor to acid rain, smog and haze. Sulfur dioxide-along with nitrogen oxide-is converted in the air to particulate matter that can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts, and premature death.

The settlement resolves alleged violations based on Louisiana law at the Geismar, Louisiana, facility, and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality will receive $350,000 of the $1.3 million penalty.

The settlement was filed in the federal court in Baton Rouge, La., and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

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