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Watchdog Alert: Former Eastman Chemical Plant in Jefferson Hills to Reduce Pollution

In our annual updates about the Title V Operating Permit programs at the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), we have written about Eastman Chemical’s facility in Jefferson Hills and the ongoing failure to issue a Title V Operating Permit to it (background: although an application for such a permit was submitted in early 2022, the permit has not yet been issued).

First, we have learned that the facility has a new owner – it also appears that in early 2022 the facility (as well as the rest of Eastman Chemical’s adhesive resins business line) was acquired by Synthomer, Plc., a multi-national firm based in the United Kingdom.

So, going forward, we will be referring to Synthomer’s facility in Jefferson Hills when we write about it.

Second: We have a bit of good news about the Synthomer facility.

Recently, Synthomer applied for an installation permit that would authorize it to replace ammonia with sodium hydroxide in the thermal oxidizer that it uses to control emissions of oxide of nitrogen (NOx) from one of the facility’s manufacturing processes.

According to Synthomer’s permit application, testing shows this substitution will reduce NOx emissions from the thermal oxidizer by about 13%, or potentially a little less than 3.5 tons per year.

“This is not a huge reduction in emissions,” GASP’s Senior Attorney John Baillie said, “But less pollution is always good news.”

Copies of the draft installation permit and ACHD’s review memorandum are available here.

ACHD will accept comments on the draft permit through Nov. 14.

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