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OEPA calls out Nucor Corp for emissions violations
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Monday, 05 Nov 2012
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An OEPA official said that the start up expected later this month of a slag processing facility on Harding Highway East is part of Nucor Steel Marion Inc's agreement with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to settle air pollution permitting, monitoring and emissions violations.

Ms Dina Pierce of the OEPA said that "Nucor has contracted with Phoenix Services LLC, of Kennett Square, to handle the processing of slag, dirt that forms on the surface of molten metal as a byproduct of its steel manufacturing operations, to address manganese emissions."

Manganese is one of a number of volatile organic compounds, gases that may have short and long term adverse health effects. While Nucor's permit includes no limit on manganese emissions, the OEPA took the opportunity in addressing the other violations to seek the company's cooperation in addressing high levels of manganese detected over the years by the OEPA's air monitors near the mill at 912 Cheney Ave.

Ms Pierce said that "They were detecting elevated manganese levels. That was really the biggest concern for us."

Ms Pierce said that the off site slag facility is across from Marion Industrial Center, about three miles east of Marion and seven miles from the Nucor mill. He added that "The site is outside the current air pollution modeling impact area. The OEPA believes this will offer a reduction in emissions at the facility, as will implement additional control measures for the slag operations that remain on site at Nucor."

Nucor reached an agreement in April after the OEPA found the steel manufacturing plant violated its air permit by installing a larger transformer for an emissions unit that increased efficiencies and production capabilities of a 70 tonnes per hour electric arc furnace without obtaining the proper permit to install. On November 5th 2008 to November 6th 2008, less than three months after the upgraded arc furnace began operating, OEPA monitors near the plant detected levels of volatile organic compound emission exceeding the limitation in the plant's air permit.

Mr Therr Nowlin GM of Nucor Steel Marion said company officials replaced the previous transformer because it was wearing out, not to increase production, and mistakenly thought they replaced it with an identical transformer. He added that "We did report ourselves on that. We violated our permit."

Mr Trevor Beers, the plant's environmental manager said that the plant completed a re permitting process to allow it to operate the new transformer, which raised the electric arc furnace's production capacity to 75 tonnes of steel per hour. He said the mill is operating within its permitted levels and trying to help the OEPA determine sources of elevated manganese levels in the area.

Ms Pierce said that one of the primary areas of the agreement will address elevated manganese emissions that OEPA monitors have detected near the mill for several years. According to the agency, chronic exposure to high levels of manganese can affect the central nervous system. In air pollution assessments, exposure is assumed to be constant inhalation of the measured concentration of air pollution for 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, for 30 to 70 years.

Nucor's agreement with the OEPA requires the company to construct a three sided enclosure and implement a water spray to reduce manganese emissions from the parts of the slag operation that the OEPA has allowed to remain at the mill, and a larger bag house for the melt shop to capture and collect emissions. The order also requires the company to perform stack testing for manganese to determine the amount of manganese emissions from the melt shop before and after its construction.

Mr Beers said Nucor has its new, larger bag house up and operating, and estimated the company will have its melt shop enclosed as required in 2013.

Ms Pierce said that Nucor is ahead of schedule, which includes a deadline of 21 months from the date of the order that it has to build and operate the metal shop enclosure. OEPA inspectors suspect fugitive emissions, emissions that don’t go through the bag house or another control device, comprise part of the excessive manganese levels.

She said that "That was the speculation, that some of this was probably uncontrolled emissions. By enclosing the melt shop, that will force it to go up through the control device."

The agreement includes a USD 466,900 fine the company paid in early April 2012, with USD 93,380 going to the OEPA's Clean Diesel School Bus Program and USD 78,000 the company received in credit for money it spent for air monitoring, including construction of a weather station, which measures wind direction, wind speed and temperature.

Ms Pierce said that "I know we considered it a very serious violation, so the level of the severity figures into it. The length of time it lasts figures into it. There are a number of things that go into it. The number gets put out there, and then it gets negotiated. It is there to be a punishment, but at the same time we’re trying not to be unreasonable."

Other terms of the settlement require Nucor to develop a system to regularly monitor emissions of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides from the mill's preheat furnace. The company also is to limit steel production to rates specified in its permits.

An OEPA toxicologist's January 2011 observation that the agency has not identified Nucor as the source of pollution including elevated manganese levels detected by its monitors at Bellefontaine and Gill avenues over a 10 year period still stands. But that could change once long range monitoring following implementation of the measures at Nucor is complete.

She said that "Every three days our monitors take an air sample. We'll need long term data. Especially once Nucor gets done enclosing the melt shop and complying with these orders, we'll gather a year or so of data, and the toxicologist and the team she's on will analyze that and see if it's been effective, and we'll know if the manganese levels have gone down and if they haven't."

She said if the OEPA analysis indicates manganese levels in the area remain high after Nucor implements all of the measures requested of it, the agency will continue to work to determine the source of the manganese levels.

Mr Nowlin said the company is working with the OEPA to determine the source of the excessive manganese levels, whether it's Nucor or other sites emitting the metallic element, some amount of which is essential to the health of plants and higher animals. He added that "We are working with the EPA to determine where the increased manganese levels might be coming from."

Source - Marion Star

(www.steelguru.com)


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