GEISMAR, La. — A phosphate plant in Geismar will pay a $1.4 million penalty for sending hazardous waste to a neighboring plant that does not have a permit to store, treat or dispose of hazardous waste, federal officials said Thursday.
The Environmental Protection Agency said in a news release that Innophos Holdings Inc. has changed treatment of some of the waste, and plans deep injection wells to dispose of the rest.
The company, which is based in Cranbury, New Jersey, said that the settlement with the EPA and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality deals with “a small number of manufacturing processes” at the Geismar plant, which purifies phosphoric acid.
It expects to spend $16 million on the injection wells. Construction began late last year and should be completed by early 2018, the company said.
The Innophos plant purifies phosphoric acid, which has many uses, including as a food and beverage additive, fertilizer feedstock, and an ingredient of fire retardants and metal cleaners and polishes.
The plant that had been taking the waste produces acid from phosphate ore, EPA said in its news release.
The EPA said two kinds of waste were sent to the second plant: acid called RP pondwater and concentrated acid called raffinate. Both are contaminated with cadmium and chromium; RP pondwater also contains arsenic, it said.
Innophos has changed its filtration to bring the RP pondwater into compliance, and will use the injection wells to dispose of raffinate, the EPA said.
EPA said it found the violations during a 2004 inspection.
“While we stand behind our long-term assertion that our operations at the Geismar facility are in full compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations, this negotiated solution is fair for the public and the Company,” Innophos Vice President and chief legal officer Joshua Horenstein said.