Intalco Aluminum has been fined $32,500 for air quality permit violations at its Ferndale smelter tied to issues with the facility’s operations and to a November 2016 fire at the plant.
The operational issues at Intalco stem from a planned shutdown of the plant in 2016. That curtailment was cancelled in June 2016 after the company signed a new agreement with the Bonneville Power Administration, but the process of stopping the curtailment preparations, combined with the loss of trained personnel, resulted in a number of emission limit violations in the potlines. The potlines are the area of the smelting facility where electric current is used in the creation of metallic aluminum.
The violations were tied to these ongoing issues, and Ecology issued a $27,500 penalty for these problems. Ecology is also fining the smelter $5,000 for separate violations that occurred as it worked to restore production following a fire in the bake oven in November 2016.
An Ecology toxicologist analyzed the reported emissions from the potlines and bake oven and concluded that they were not likely to have caused exposure levels that would result in adverse health effects or impacts to the environment.
Ecology is also ordering the company to improve its training programs to help minimize emissions in the future.
Intalco worked in good faith to minimize and correct the problems,” said James DeMay, manager of Ecology’s Industrial Section, which regulates the Intalco smelter. “We recognize Intalco has faced some challenges, but the company still needs to meet its air quality permit requirements.” The company may appeal the penalty within 30 days to the state’s Pollution Control Hearings Board.