An Ohio school district has filed a lawsuit against Ineos ABS (USA) Corp. and Lanxess Corp., seeking damages for alleged air pollution from an ABS resin plant operating in Addyston, Ohio.
The board of education of the Three Rivers Local School District located in the far corner of southwest Ohio filed the suit Nov. 24 in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in Cincinnati. The board is seeking unspecified damages from Ineos ABS and from Lanxess, which owned the plant before forming a joint venture with Ineos Group in 2007. Ineos became sole owner of the plant in September.
In 2005, the district closed an elementary school located across the street from the ABS plant after the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency reported unsafe levels of ABS feedstocks acrylonitrile and butadiene in the air near the school, officials said in the filing.
The district with about 2,000 students has been unable to re-open the school, causing crowding in other schools, officials added.
The district has divided some classrooms, held classes in a cafeteria and moved tutoring sessions into hallways to handle the space crunch, Three Rivers superintendent Rhonda Bohannon said by phone Dec. 1.
You hate to feel like you're suing a neighbor, she said. But if you ask whether the kids and the district lost out because of this, the answer would have to be yes.
In July, Ineos ABS and Lanxess paid a $3.1 million civil penalty levied by the U.S. EPA for violations of multiple environmental laws associated with the Addyston plant.
Addyston-based Ineos ABS and Lanxess also agreed at the time to invest as much as $2 million to upgrade environmental controls at the site. That agreement comes only four years after Pittsburgh-based Lanxess spent $1 million to improve air quality at the site, which employs about 300.
In spite of those improvements, school district officials said in the court filing that the elementary school remains vacant, to this day, because emissions from the plant continue to exceed designated EPA standards.
In a statement to Plastics News, Ineos said: We are disappointed to receive such a notification, given the significant improvement that has been made in the site's environmental performance in the short time that [Ineos] has owned the Addyston facility.
Lanxess management added: Lanxess does not believe that emissions from the facility endangered the health, safety or welfare of the public. We take strong issue with the allegations raised in the complaint and will vigorously defend our interests.
Bayer Corp. which spun off Lanxess in 2004 bought the Addyston site from Monsanto Co. in 1995 and spent more than $100 million on technology upgrades there before including it in Lanxess. The plant has annual capacity of about 400 million pounds of ABS, and also produces styrene acrylonitrile resins.
No court dates have been set in the case. Bohannon declined to specify an amount that the district hopes to receive from the lawsuit.
We'll let the jury decide, she said.
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