By Tom Hrach, firstname.lastname@example.org
Eramet of Marietta has been cited by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency for emitting too much particulate matter
into the air from one of the furnaces at its plant. The
company has 30 days to conduct a meeting with EPA to discuss
the issue, and come up with a plan to resolve it. The limits
on particulate matter are part of the federal Clean Air Act,
which all companies must follow.
No one from the company was available to discuss the issue
on Monday. Eramet is a producer of ferromanganese products at
its plant on Ohio 7 between Marietta and Belpre.
Particulate matter is a concern for people because inhaling
high concentrations can affect children, the elderly and
people with heart and lung diseases, according to the U.S.
Particulate matter is also one of the six primary
pollutants in the air, which can cause health concerns for
people, said Eric Fitch, director of the environmental science
program at Marietta College.
Particulate matter can range in size from microscopic
particles to pieces of ash that can actually be seen and
darken the skies. Fitch said particulate matter is one of the
products of combustion, and he said they can exacerbate
breathing problems and make people sick.
"Particulates are a major concern. And it's the stuff that
you can't see that is almost as dangerous as the stuff you can
see," Fitch said.
Bill Omohundro, spokesman for the U.S. EPA from Chicago,
said a required test was conducted of emissions at the plant
on June 12. It showed that one furnace at the plant exceeded
the federal standard for particulate matter during that test.
"It's a preliminary finding. We have put the company on
notice, and now the company can rebut our allegations,"
Omohundro said. "It's premature to discuss what might happen
or if there would be a penalty."
The likely scenario is that the U.S. EPA would issue a
compliance order to reduce the emissions. But the company
could be filed or a suit could be brought against the company
if the issue is not addressed.
Specifically, the test showed that the furnace had emitted
39.14 pounds of particulate matter during the testing period,
and the allowable limit is 35.9 pounds. Omohundro said that it
is the first time the company has been cited for violating
that particular Clean Air standard.