WASHINGTON (February 9, 2021) — American Zinc Recycling Corp. (ZR) has settled a federal-state lawsuit citing violations of air, water and hazardous waste environmental laws at its facility in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, delivering environmental and public health benefits, including reduced lead dust exposure, for nearby residents. Lead exposure poses particular health risks to young children and pregnant women.
In settlement papers filed on January 19 in federal court in Scranton, Pa., AZR has agreed to carry out an estimated $4.3 million in measures to comply with federal and state environmental laws. This settlement is expected to result in substantial reductions of pollution from the AZR facility, including an estimated 47 million pounds of electric arc furnace dust over three years. AZR also will pay a $3.3 million penalty. The complaint and proposed consent decree were filed by the U.S. Justice Department, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP).
“This settlement will help protect the community of Palmerton from exposure to harmful pollutants as well as hazardous waste,” said Larry Starfield, EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “In particular, I am very pleased that the settlement will address fugitive emissions of lead dust that are posing a public health risk to families living as far as three miles away.”
“This settlement resulted from the commitment and hard work of EPA’s staff, who worked diligently with Justice Department attorneys and PADEP officials. The negotiated resolution protects the environment and public health of the surrounding community,” said Acting EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Diana Esher. “I am pleased that all parties were able to come to a settlement on such important issues.”
AZR is the corporate successor of Horsehead Corporation, which emerged from bankruptcy in September 2016. The AZR facility in Palmerton is located on Aquashicola Creek, which flows into the Lehigh River. The facility, which has operated for more than 100 years, reclaims zinc from electric arc furnace dust, a hazardous waste. The facility also generates waste kiln rubble, which includes hazardous lead and cadmium. Aboveground oil tanks at the facility have an aggregate 61,000-gallon storage capacity.
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