Richmond Chemical Plant Pays a Whopping $1.15 Million Price Tag for Breathing Life into Air Pollution Violations
Richmond Chemical Plant Pays a Whopping $1.15 Million Price Tag for Breathing Life into Air Pollution Violations

Richmond Chemical Plant Pays a Whopping $1.15 Million Price Tag for Breathing Life into Air Pollution Violations

  • 28-Jul-2023 12:26 PM
  • Journalist: Robert Hume

San Francisco: A Sulfuric acid production company in Richmond was fined $1.15 million on Thursday for violations connected to broken emissions meters, according to city air quality officials. According to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Chemtrade has been underreporting Sulfur Dioxide emissions since at least 2014 due to improper calibration, use, and upkeep of its continuous monitoring system.

These readings at the plant, which is situated at 525 Castro St. near to the Chevron Refinery in the city's western industrial region, are essential for figuring out whether pollution standards are being met. The BAAQMD claimed that Chemtrade's monitoring system was unable to accurately track the scope of the plant's emissions, even though the air district's audit did not discover any evidence that the company's Sulfur Dioxide emissions went above its permissible limits.

Unfavourable effects on the respiratory system from Sulfur dioxide, a colorless, smelly gas used to make fertilizers, explosives, and petroleum catalysts, include wheezing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. The chemical is the primary component of acid rain when it combines with water and air.

Chemtrade's reported emission rates are thought to have decreased by an average of 33% during 2014, according to BAAQMD authorities. A part of the $1.15 million fine should go toward community initiatives to raise Richmond's air quality, according to agency staff recommendations.

These issues had been anticipated for some time; prior to the decision on Thursday, the agency's Hearing Board had sent the Richmond plant seven letters, including an abatement order in April 2022. Additionally, Chemtrade was hit with a $135,000 punishment six years ago for violating the law of air pollution from 2009 to 2014, which included putting alkylation acid from storage tanks into vehicles without a permit and possibly polluting the air with Sulfuric acid fumes.

Even though most of the issues started when General Chemical West held the factory, Chemtrade, which bought it in 2014, claimed in 2017 that all the infractions discovered during a voluntary audit had been resolved. Chemtrade is currently one of North America's top providers of Sulfuric acid, Liquid Sulfur Dioxide, and Sodium Nitrite, as well as a major regional supplier of Sulfur, Sodium Chlorate, Potassium Chloride, and Zinc Oxide, according to a Richmond Chamber of Commerce directory.

The executive officer of BAAQMD, Dr. Philip Fine, claimed that the fine issued on Thursday reflected the district's efforts to safeguard the health of Bay Area residents. The severe financial repercussions for these offenses send Chemtrade a loud and clear message that they must precisely track their Sulfur Dioxide emissions in accordance with all air quality laws to help protect the residents, said Fine in a statement.

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