MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

January 5, 2013

Firms cited under Clean Air Act

Owens-Brockway fined in Dec. for alleged violations, others within last 3 years

A local manufacturer of glass containers fined recently for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act is one of four Muskogee companies cited.

A review of state and federal records shows three other companies also have been subject to enforcement actions within the past three years for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act that contribute to poor air quality.

Owens-Brockway agreed in December to pay a $1.45 million fine and spend another $37.5 million to upgrade pollution control equipment at five facilities, including its Muskogee plant. Complaints filed against the company’s Muskogee plant allege major modifications were made that significantly increased harmful emissions without obtaining the requisite permits.

During the past three years, state regulators initiated enforcement actions against three other local companies. Monetary penalties were assessed against two companies, OG&E and Dal-Italia, for allegedly exceeding plant emission limits. A third company, Yaffe Iron & Metal Co., was subject to a consent order requiring the company to develop a plan to limit fugitive dust emitted from its Muskogee scrap-metal recycling plant.

Company representatives of all four facilities said the agreements reached with state and federal regulators included no admissions of liability. The consent orders, however, serve as a settlement of issues arising from the Clean Air Act violations alleged by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.

Erin Hatfield, an ODEQ spokeswoman, declined to say whether the number of facilities subject to enforcement actions under the Clean Air Act is abnormal.

“DEQ responds to environmental violations throughout Oklahoma,” Hatfield said, noting violations are handled on a case-by-case basis, regardless of location. “It is simply a coincidence that four Muskogee area companies have come under enforcement action in the past three years.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are 36 companies operating in Muskogee County subject to Clean Air Act permit requirements. That means 11 percent of those companies were subject to enforcement actions during the past three years.

Compared with Owens-Brockway, a wholly owned subsidiary of Owens-Illinois and the nation’s largest manufacturer of glass containers, sanctions against the three other local companies were comparatively less stringent.

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