CAA Settlement Requires Violator to Invest in Improving Energy Efficiency of Other Buildings

CAA Settlement Requires Violator to Invest in Improving Energy Efficiency of Other Buildings

By Marc Karell, P.E., CEM, Climate Change & Environmental Services, LLC

In September of 2013, HA Industries of Oregon, IL, a manufacturer of coatings and resin-coated sands, settled charges that it violated the Clean Air Act. No big deal here. This happens all the time. Like many such settlements, HA Industries was required to install advanced technologies to reduce the facility’s emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by about 92% and of PM emissions. They were also made to pay a $100,000 civil penalty. Again, nothing unusual here. Very typical.

However, what makes this settlement unique is that the USEPA is also requiring HA Industries to invest an additional $100,000 in environmental projects at outside local facilities, including over $50,000 at two schools that were impacted by their emissions. See

Oregon High School and the Creston School will have their heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems upgraded so that there will be improved energy efficiency and reduced emissions of asthma-triggering compounds paid for by HA International.

Following complaints from Oregon area residents about a persistent odor from HA International, the USEPA inspected the facility and required testing of emissions from the company’s production lines. Test results showed that emissions of VOCs, primarily the hazardous air pollutants phenol and formaldehyde, exceeded applicable limits and that formaldehyde, a probable human carcinogen, presented a potential health risk.

While the USEPA could have just issued the civil penalty and required the facility to demonstrate that it met all applicable air emission and health-based limits, the agency went further, requiring HA Industries to pay reparations to the impacted local population by investing in emission reductions at other local facilities, such as the schools, benefiting children particularly potentially impacted by the formaldehyde and other emissions. In addition, the entire region (school district taxpayers) benefit from the upgrade in energy efficiency and reduction in emissions from the school buildings.

Some companies reach out to the community and assist other facilities as being a good neighbor. But rarely has it been mandated before. This is being followed and may be a new trend in enforcement. While HA Industries cannot be pleased to spend extra money in this way, they can eventually take credit for positive community outreach.

CCES has the experience and technical experts to help your facility determine whether it potentially violates any Clean Air Act rules. We can determine the most reliable and economic way to reduce emissions and lessen any potential health impact and improve the energy efficiency of your systems. Contact us at 914-584-6720 or at

Marc Karell, P.E., CEM, Principal, Climate Change & Environmental Services, LLC



Reprinted with permission by CCES



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