2020 Environmental Real Estate Issues

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it has settled allegations that five related companies improperly operated flares at three manufacturing facilities. According to DOJ’s news release announcing the settlement, the companies “agreed to make upgrades and perform compliance measures estimated to cost $110 million to resolve allegations that they violated the Clean Air Act and state air pollution control laws…The companies will also pay a $1 million civil penalty.”

Improper Flare Operation
DOJ alleges the companies “failed to properly operate and monitor their industrial flares, which resulted in excess emissions of harmful air pollution at the three facilities.” The flares were regularly “oversteamed” and “failed to comply with other key operating constraints.”

Minimize Flow to and Increase Efficiency of Flares
With the settlement, the companies agreed to minimize the amount of waste gas sent to the flares by recycling more of the waste gas. They will improve combustion efficiency with improved instrumentation and monitoring.

Fence Line Monitoring
The companies also agreed to perform air quality monitoring to detect benzene at the fence lines of the three facilities. Monitoring results must be posted to a publicly available website. Also, the monitoring requirements include triggers for root cause analysis and corrective actions if fence line emissions exceed certain thresholds.

The settlement is in a proposed Consent Decree, which is subject to a 30-day comment period.

To see the news release, which has a link for the proposed Consent Decree https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/westlake-chemical-corporation-subsidiaries-agree-reduce-harmful-air-pollution-three-us