NatureWorks LLC, which makes corn-based polylactide resin, will spend ``several million'' dollars on scrubbing equipment to reduce air emissions of volatile organic compounds at its PLA plant in Blair, Neb.
The effort is part of a consent decree reached with the state Department of Environmental Quality. NatureWorks was fined $60,000 on Nov. 20 because it incorrectly estimated the plant's full-capacity VOC emissions in its request for a construction permit about five years ago. The company also was ordered to pay another $60,000 to fund a greenhouse project at a local high school.
NatureWorks reported the discrepancy four years ago after it tested emissions from the 10 fermentation production tanks used to make PLA. It then developed an abatement plan with state officials to incorporate the best available technology.
``The construction air permit is based on maximum potential emissions and when we got the test data, we told the state our numbers [were] off'' and the company had to put in equipment to reduce the emissions, said Larry Fox, a lawyer for NatureWorks, which is based in Minnetonka. The company is a subsidiary of Cargill Inc.
Glenn Johnston, director of regulatory affairs for NatureWorks, said the company hopes to have the regenerative thermal oxidator installed even before the state-mandated deadline of Jan. 31, 2008.