The owners of the FMC Idaho LLC plant just west of Pocatello have agreed to pay an $85,000 civil penalty to settle federal Clean Air Act violations with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that included “excessive emissions” from the idled plant during its decommissioning.
Jim Werntz, EPA’s Idaho office director in Boise, said plant operators needed to be especially diligent to protect air quality while they decommissioned and decontaminated phosphorus-laden debris at the plant. “It’s a matter of being a responsible corporate neighbor,” he said. “Plant operators were required to regularly test the emissions from an air pollution control `scrubber’ to control particulate matter. And it just didn’t happen.”
FMC was cited for four violations. The plant stopped producing phosphorous from raw ore in 2001, but continued to process smaller amounts of phosphorus material as it was being decommissioned and dismantled. At the height of its operation, the plant produced about 250 million pounds of elemental phosphorous a year, which was sold for use in everything from cleaning compounds to foods.