[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) [official websites] said Monday they had reached a settlement [text, PDF] with Shell Chemicals LP [corporate website] over the alleged Clean Air Act (CAA), National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) and Louisiana state law violations committed by failing to properly operate industrial flares at the company's Norco, Louisiana, plant.
The settlement, lodged in the Eastern District Court of Louisiana as a consent decree, requires [press release] Shell to spend roughly $10 million to monitor, install, and operate technology, "estimated to reduce air emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by approximately 159 tons per year, and reduce other harmful air pollutants, including benzene, by approximately 18 tons per year." The press release detailed the significance of the settlement and impact, stating:
Industrial flares burn waste gases that otherwise would be released to the atmosphere. Well-operated flares have high 'combustion efficiency,' meaning they burn nearly all the harmful components in the waste gas, including VOCs and hazardous air pollutants, turning them into water and carbon dioxide. Under the consent decree, Shell will take steps to minimize the amount of waste gas sent to the flares. Shell will also operate a flare gas recovery system at the facility, which will save the company money by allowing it to use waste gas as fuel; this waste gas would otherwise be sent to the facility's flares.The settlement will be subject to federal public comment for 30 days and Louisiana state public comment for 45 days. The court must also issue a final court approval.