SI Group fined again for pollution violations

By NED CAMPBELL
Gazette Reporter
ROTTERDAM JUNCTION — SI Group was fined $400,000 for several Clean Air Act violations at its Rotterdam Junction manufacturing plant, according to a state Department of Environmental Conservation consent order dated Oct. 20.

Among the many violations:

  • In July 2013, staff from DEC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found alkyl phenol compounds on equipment surrounding a scrubber, the result of a valve being left open and contaminants being exhausted with the steam.
  • In August 2013, DEC staff felt moisture on their skin that was being discharged from the roof of a batch processing building. It was later determined that the liquid contained five hazardous air pollutants. The liquid was emitted because the valve controlling the circulation of water within a scrubber was set too high. SI Group was charged with failing to effectively operate a flaking belt scrubber emission control device.
  • SI Group failed to accurately report emissions. On Sept. 16, 2014, DEC staff found that a thinning tank and its equipment were not connected to any air pollution control equipment. SI Group had reported the tank’s Process 012 emissions at less than 300 pounds annually for the last several years. The DEC’s estimates found the emissions to be about 4,935 pounds per year.

Brooke Manrique, an SI Group spokeswoman, said the company, headquartered in Niskayuna, is working with the DEC to meet the requirements of the consent order. SI Group has already completed “several projects” to address the issues, including equipment upgrades and process automation improvements, she said in a statement.

The company’s Rotterdam Junction chemical manufacturing plant has been hit with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for polluting the air and the Mohawk River over the last decade. In March, it was fined $75,000 by the DEC for discharging untreated wastewater containing phenol, a compound that can cause severe burns, into the river.

Frank Bozich, hired in May 2013 as SI Group president and CEO, has pledged to make the plant much cleaner.

“Our multi-year, multi-phase approach to improving operations at the facility includes investing more than $20 million in capital improvement projects over the next five years,” Manrique said. “We are hiring more engineers and safety experts to develop long-term, sophisticated solutions that help us move beyond compliance — with a long-term goal of transitioning Rotterdam Junction into a zero effluent site.”

About the Author

Rebecca Isenhart
Rebecca Isenhart is the reporter/writer for Your Niskayuna, presented by the Daily Gazette of Schenectady.