American Sugar Refining, Inc., has been sued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the operation of boilers at its iconic Domino Sugar plant overlooking Baltimore's Inner Harbor. According to the lawsuit, filed May 9 in U.S. District Court in Maryland, American Sugar is liable for per-diem penalties for each day it violated the federal Clean Air Act permit for its boilers since 1997. However, a proposed consent decree filed with the lawsuit, which may take affect some time after a 30-day public-comment period, could allow the company to not admit fault, bring its boiler operations into compliance, and pay a $200,000 fine, rather than face the per-diem penalties. The lawsuit does not state how often American Sugar is alleged to have violated its permit, called a Title V permit, nor does it tabulate the total amount of potential penalties it is facing. The consent decree is signed by American Sugar senior vice president Michael S. Seither. Attempts to reach representatives of American Sugar, the EPA, and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland for comment on the litigation were not immediately successful.
UPDATE: American Sugar Refining, Inc. has issued a statement on the matter. See below.
FOR RELEASE Contact: Stu FitzGibbon American Sugar Refining, Inc. 410-783-8628 American Sugar Refining to Add Stricter Clean Air Controls at Baltimore Refinery BALTIMORE, MD - May 11, 2012 - American Sugar Refining, Inc., a company actively committed to sustainability, will begin implementing additional clean air initiatives at its sugar refinery in Baltimore, as part of a recent agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. American Sugar received a notice from EPA in September 2009 alleging that boilers at the Baltimore plant had exceeded the operating criteria in the air emission permits. At the same time, EPA offered to meet and discuss corrective actions. American Sugar believed the operations were in compliance but agreed to meet with EPA and fully cooperated throughout the agency's investigation. American Sugar and EPA negotiated a settlement agreement, which EPA filed as a Consent Decree along with a formal complaint recognizing that American Sugar and EPA have agreed to settle the matter in order to avoid costly litigation. American Sugar at all times acted in good faith with EPA and the Maryland Department of the Environment. Throughout the negotiations, EPA allowed American Sugar to continue its operations. "Our refinery has been a steady part of Baltimore's economy for 90 years," said Refinery Manager Stu FitzGibbon. "All of our employees here take our environmental responsibilities extremely seriously. The company's willingness to install additional control technology above and beyond what we believe is currently required demonstrates American Sugar's commitment to maintaining and improving air quality in the Baltimore area." American Sugar employs a company-wide Corporate Sustainability Manager, based in Baltimore, who is actively seeking opportunities to make the company's operations even more sustainable. As part of the settlement, the company has also agreed to pay $200,000 to resolve all disputed issues connected with the boiler operations.