The Alabama Department of Environmental Management is proposing to issue $250,000 in administrative fines against AM/NS Calvert for air and water quality violations, according to consent orders released last week.

According to ADEM, the $200,000 fine for air violations consisted of a failure to meet chlorine emission limits, and a failure to perform required monitoring and record keeping, while the $50,000 fine for water violations consisted of effluent violations, an unpermitted discharge, and failure to provide training for Best Management Practices (BMP), failure to conduct BMP inspections, failure to maintain a BMP plan on site, and a failure to implement proper BMPs.

The orders were the result of an anonymous complaint filed last summer, ADEM said, prompting a joint investigation with the Environmental Protection Agency.

The air quality violations were rooted in the operation of a Hydrochloric Acid Regeneration Plant (HC1 Plant) on site by PVS Steel Services. Inspectors found operators failed to use a required caustic solution to regulate the pH in its scrubbing system. PVS was also assessed an administrative fine of $60,000 for the violations, according to records.

The water quality violations were levied after ADEM personnel observed “the HC1 Plant’s loading area was inadeqately maintained; there was a lack of BMP measures in place to prevent or minimize stormwater contact with waste materials, products and by-products; silt fencing installed at the storm water inlets was inadequately maintained; and evidence of sediment discharges the the stormwater inlets and ditches around the loading area. In addition, department personnel observed and noted that the lined storm water pond adjacent to the HC1 Plant contained red-colored water and an accumulation of solids.”

ADEM also found the pond was discharging into nearby receiving waters through “a leaking valve.”

ADEM noted it is not aware of any evidence of irreperable harm to human health or the environment due to the violations. The consent order stated AM/NS has already undertaken several actions in response to the air violations, including reinforcing its instructions to PVS to use the caustic solutions when operating the plant, as well as installing a video system within the plant to allow AM/NS personnel to monitor its use.

In a statement, AM/NS Calvert Communications Director Scott Posey wrote: “The air and water permit violations cited in the ADEM order relate to a facility on our site that regenerates acid for reuse in a steel pickling process. While AM/NS Calvert is the official permit holder for this facility, the management and operation of the facility is contracted out to an experienced acid regeneration service provider.

“Within hours of the issues being brought to our attention by ADEM, we worked with the contractor to ensure operations were again compliant with our permits. Since then, we have made substantial investments in new monitoring controls and have required process and procedure improvements by our contractor that we are confident/assured will prevent this from reoccurring. We are also reviewing the environmental processes of all of our other onsite contractors and requiring additional environmental training for them as well.

“In an effort to be externally proactive and transparent, prior to publication of the order we apprised local community leaders of the issue and met with environmental stakeholder Mobile Baykeeper to provide them an opportunity for open Q&A with our internal experts. AM/NS Calvert is not only committed to full compliance with all of our environmental permits, we are committed to continuous improvement in environmental sustainability. This commitment must be a shared responsibility with our employees and with our contractors.”

Photo of AM/NS Calvert via Wikipedia.