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Fertilizer Maker Settles Alleged Clean Air Violations

Tue, 10/06/2009 - 5:31am

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Minnesota-based company accused of violating the Clean Air Act has agreed to spend about $30 million to improve air pollution controls at its sulfuric acid production plant in Louisiana, federal authorities announced Monday.

A settlement agreement filed Monday in a New Orleans federal court also calls for Mosaic Fertilizer of Plymouth, Minn., to pay a $2.4 million civil penalty.

Mosaic agreed to install equipment that will limit sulfur dioxide emissions at its plant in Uncle Sam, La., and will permanently cease sulfuric acid production at its plant in Bartow, Fla., the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency said.

Sulfur dioxide is emitted during the production of sulfuric acid. Elevated levels of sulfur dioxide can cause respiratory problems.

Mosaic was accused of failing to obtain permits and install required pollution control equipment before it modified its Uncle Sam plant in a way that increased sulfur dioxide emissions.

Mosaic didn't admit any wrongdoing in settling the claim, court documents state.

Rob Litt, a spokesman for Mosaic Fertilizer's parent company, said Mosaic is "firmly committed to environmental stewardship and operating within regulatory standards."

"We worked closely with the EPA to identify this solution, which will bring our Uncle Sam plant's emissions to levels well below current regulatory limits," he said. "The agreement also allows Mosaic the opportunity to demonstrate our leadership by implementing new advanced emission control technology not previously utilized in our industry."

The state of Louisiana will receive $600,000 of the $2.4 million penalty from the settlement, which must be approved by a judge.

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