Aluminum Processor Fined $337K For Air Pollution

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- A Georgia company has agreed to pay $337,500 for violating air pollution laws at its western Kentucky aluminum processing plant, a penalty the Environmental Protection Agency calls the largest of its kind in the southeastern United States.

The U.S. Justice Department and the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet filed the lawsuit against Carrollton, Ga.-based Southwire Co., on the same day it filed the settlement in U.S. District Court on Thursday. Kentucky and the federal government will evenly split the penalty.

The company, which operates a plant in Hawesville, Ky., admitted to at least two violations of the Clean Air Act in 2006, by putting too many pollutants into the air from the facility.

Laura Niles, a spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Agency in Atlanta, said the settlement is the biggest in the South for violations of the Secondary Aluminum Maximum Achievable Control Technology regulations at a single facility.

Gary Leftwich, a spokesman for Southwire, told The Associated Press the penalties stem from poor record keeping by the company in 2005 and 2006. An audit by the Kentucky Energy and Environmental Cabinet Department of Air Quality found that Southwire did not properly test, monitor or keep records of certain emissions in accordance with the Clean Air Act at the Hawesville facility, which is about 77 miles west of Louisville.

"It's one of those things that slipped by us and it shouldn't have," Leftwich said.

As a major source as defined by the Clean Air Act, the secondary aluminum production facility must comply with all pertinent regulations at the federal, state, and local levels pursuant to the law.

The Kentucky Department of Air Quality confirmed in August 2007 that Southwire, which makes 1 million pounds of aluminum rods a day at the Hawesville plant, came into compliance with air pollutant levels from the secondary aluminum production facility.

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