Iowa will see money and a new riverside eco-tourism center as part of an environmental settlement with a large chemical company. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is settling with Texas-based Equistar Chemicals which will spend more than 125-million dollars for pollution controls and clean-up. U.S. Justice Department spokesman Andrew Ames says the case involves a variety of environmental violations at seven Equistar plants in Texas, Illinois, Louisiana — and Clinton, Iowa.
Ames says: "This consent decree is going to require Equistar to invest in comprehensive controls and measures to clean the air and hazardous waste pollution at these facilities. They’re going to have to install different operational measures that control and comply with the federal and state clean air acts." The Clinton factory employs several hundred workers and makes plastic pellets which are used elsewhere to make milk jugs.
Ames says Equistar will pay the state of Iowa more than $178,000 as part of the civil penalty, and more money for a riverfront project in eastern Iowa. Ames says: "Oftentimes in these settlements, there are supplemental environment projects that the companies are asked to provide funds for. In this case, Equistar is going to pay 200-thousand (dollars) for the creation of a Mississippi River Eco-Tourism Center. It’s going to be located in the city of Camanche and they’re going to provide the funds to the Clinton County Conservation Foundation."
Ames says Equistar, which is a subsidiary of Lyondell, will also spend $50,000 to construct a permanent roof over a hazardous waste container storage area at the Clinton plant. A spokesman for the chemical company says repairs and upgrades are already underway. Tom Nunheimer, at Equistar Chemical in Clinton, says they’re diligently working to correct problems there and in Illinois, Texas and Lousiana, problems the federal E-P-A says pumped hazardous materials into the air, ground and water.
Nunheimer says: "It’s actually going to take us to a point that’s beyond compliance and that’s the position we want to be in. We want to be doing more than we’re asked for in terms of the environmental performance. Frankly there were some areas where we weren’t performing as well as we should have been and that’s why this agreement got started."