Pennsylvania Makes Eastman and Shell Pay for Environmental Violations

May 26, 2023
Pennsylvania has been diligent in protecting its environment and is holding its local chemical industry accountable.

According to the U.S. EPA on May 25, Eastman Chemical Resins Inc. will pay a $2.4 million penalty for environmental violations at its 56-acre manufacturing facility in West Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, which is now owned and operated by Synthomer Jefferson Hills, LLC.

Along with the financial penalty being paid by Eastman, Synthomer has agreed to take actions to eliminate ongoing violations and prevent future violations. This includes conducting a comprehensive review of stormwater discharges and groundwater contamination and implementing initiatives to ensure compliance with environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and parallel Pennsylvania laws.

Violations include:

  • Chronic Clean Water Act violations including exceeding allowable limits for zinc, xylene and other pollutants that are discharged to the Monongahela River.
  • Unpermitted discharges of oil and other pollutants.
  • Failure to comply with operation and maintenance obligations of its Clean Water Act permit.
  • Violations of the facility’s Clean Air Act risk management program.
  • Numerous hazardous waste management violations.

On May 24 Shell agreed to pay $10 million to Pennsylvania in order to make amends for breaching state air quality laws following the opening of its Beaver County ethane facility.

The facility, which is close to the Ohio River and located about 30 miles west of Pittsburgh, started operating in November 2022. The facility has reported 43 problems and accrued over a dozen air violations, many due to flaring. Shell was granted a $1.65 billion tax credit, the highest in the state’s history, for the construction of the facility that would convert natural gas into plastic.

According to an AP News story, the plant exceeded rolling 12-month emission limits for volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and other hazardous pollutants, according to state regulators. The state said Shell also violated limits on visible emissions from its flares, allowed foul odors to be released by its wastewater treatment plant and committed other violations.

Shell warned it would continue to exceed air emissions limits through the fall as the plant ramps up production. It will be required to pay additional civil penalties for any future violations.