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Acid Maker LSB Agrees NOx Limits with EPA

LSB Industries Inc., the largest merchant manufacturer of concentrated nitric acid in North America, will pay an estimated $6.3 million to $11.7 million to meet nitrogen oxide emission limits that are among the lowest for the industry in the US, the EPA and Department of Justice announced today.

LSB and four of its subsidiaries have agreed to meet the limits at plants in Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

The EPA estimates that the measures required by today’s settlement will reduce NOx emissions by more than 800 tons per year. The cost estimate is the company’s own.

LSB and its four nitric acid producing subsidiaries will also pay a total penalty of $725,000 to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act and applicable Oklahoma state law. In addition to paying the penalty, the companies must continuously monitor emissions and make any necessary operational improvements such as installing new pollution controls or upgrading current controls to meet the new NOx limits.

The companies have also agreed to spend $150,000 to remediate and reforest ten acres of land with acidified soils located near El Dorado, Ark.

Today’s settlement applies to the ten nitric acid manufacturing plants owned or operated by the following Oklahoma City-based LSB subsidiaries: El Dorado Chemical Co., in El Dorado, Ark. (four plants); Cherokee Nitrogen Co. in Cherokee, Ala. (two plants); El Dorado Nitrogen Co. in Pryor, Okla. (three plants); and El Dorado Nitrogen Co. in Baytown, Texas (one plant).

The States of Oklahoma and Alabama are co-plaintiffs in today’s settlement and will receive a portion of the total penalty as follows: $206,250 will be paid to the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and $156,250 will be paid to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.

The complaint, filed concurrently with the settlement, alleges that the Cherokee, El Dorado and Pryor subsidiaries constructed or made modifications to their plants that resulted in increased emissions of NOx without first obtaining pre-construction permits and installing pollution controls. The complaint does not allege any violations regarding the Texas facility.

High concentrations of NOx in the air can irritate the lungs and lower resistance to respiratory infections such as influenza. Continued or frequent exposure may cause increased incidence of acute respiratory illness in children. Airborne NOx can also significantly contribute to acid rain and lead to the formation of smog. 

LSB, headquartered in Oklahoma City, Okla., is a major producer of nitrogen-based fertilizers, including anhydrous ammonia, urea and ammonium nitrate. The company owns and operates the largest fleet of concentrated nitric acid rail cars in the US. LSB and its subsidiaries produce nitric acid for use in products that include herbicides, metal treatment, explosives and pharmaceuticals.

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