For Immediate Release - January 21, 2010

Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office Reaches Multistate Settlement with Glass Manufacturer

BOSTON - Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and nine other states announced that they reached a settlement with a national glass manufacturer doing business in Milford, resolving allegations that the company illegally refurbished and extended the lives of its many glass furnaces without obtaining required permits and without installing state-of-the-art air pollution controls required under the federal Clean Air Act. Under the terms of the settlement, Saint-Gobain Containers, Inc. must pay a $1.15 million civil penalty to the United States, and $1.1 million in civil penalties to the intervening states and agencies. Of that $1.1 million, Massachusetts will receive $100,000.

"For years, Massachusetts has been a leader in the national battle for clean air and to reduce the health costs we incur when there is excess pollution," said Attorney General Coakley. "Making sure that industrial facilities employ state-of-the-art controls and operate as efficiently as possible is in the public interest and also helps to improve air quality standards."

"Under the consent decree, Saint Gobain's pollution reduction efforts will result in improved air quality in Milford and the surrounding region," MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt said. "This agreement serves as another example of the Commonwealth's leadership in working nationally and regionally to improve air quality."

The settlement also requires Saint-Gobain to reduce the sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from its fleet of furnaces by approximately 59 percent; its emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) by approximately 41 percent; and its emissions of particulate matter ("PM") by 28 percent by installing emissions controls that it previously failed to install.

The state and federal complaints, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, allege that Saint-Gobain repeatedly violated the federal New Source Review ("NSR") program under the federal Clean Air Act, and violated state laws and regulations in each of the facility host states.

The company will be required to retrofit its two Milford facility furnaces by 2015 to operate as oxyfuel furnaces, which are far more efficient and emit far less NOx than unregulated furnaces. NOx is a contributor to ground level ozone (smog), a human respiratory irritant that can even cause premature mortality.

The settlement also requires Saint-Gobain to install equivalent controls on both furnaces to greatly reduce SO2 emissions. SO2 emissions are a principal contributor to acid rain, which can deteriorate buildings and monuments, affect the arability of farm land, and cause marine eutrophication. The company is also required to upgrade or replace its current PM controls, called electrostatic precipitators, with new and more efficient equivalent controls.

A Consent Decree has been lodged by the United States Department of Justice (representing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and the participating states in the court in Washington. The Consent Decree is now available for public comment for a 30-day period, after which the court is expected to enter the Consent Decree so that its terms may be fully implemented.

The other states and agencies participating in the settlement with Massachusetts are Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri, Washington, and the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District.

Assistant Attorney General Fred Augenstern is handling the case for the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office. Handling the matter for MassDEP is Robert Brown of the Office of General Counsel in Boston, with technical support from Tom Cusson, Air Quality Section Chief in MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester.