SODA SPRINGS, Idaho (AP) — Monsanto Co. plans to spend $65 million to build a facility in southeast Idaho that will reduce pollution and haze caused by the process used to produce Roundup herbicide.
Waste gas from the company's operation is burned with three flares, putting particulates in the air and causing haze. Once the new facility is finished, the waste gas will be routed there to be superheated and eliminated.
"We are committed to improving visibility," Brian Kemmerer, process engineer on the new project, told the Idaho State Journal. "This technologically advanced option is the best available control technology for furnaces."
The company hopes to break ground within 60 days and have the facility running within 20 months.
Monsanto, the state's biggest industrial source of mercury, is seeking approval from the state to open a new phosphate mine in the area because its current mine was expected to be depleted within a year and a half.
An environmental impact statement remained pending on the replacement site, called the Blackfoot Bridge Mine.
Mines owned by Monsanto, Boise-based J.R. Simplot Co., and Agrium Inc. of Canada in the so-called phosphate patch near the Idaho-Wyoming border have captured public attention since selenium pollution in water began killing hundreds of livestock starting in the 1990s, including 18 cattle in 2009.
Monsanto has been working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the rich-but-polluted phosphate mining country not far from Yellowstone National Park.
The company said the $65 million it plans to spend demonstrates the company's commitment to that process and to southeast Idaho.
Martin Bauer, of the Department of Environmental Quality, said the equipment will likely make a difference.
It "represents a significant investment in advanced pollution-control technology and will go a long way toward protecting air quality and the environment for the citizens of eastern Idaho," Bauer said.