February 27, 2020: A former Johnson Controls site now owned by lead acid battery maker Clarios received a Notice of Violation in January from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control because of excessive hydrogen gas and sulfuric acid emissions.
It has also run part of its facility, which is still operating, without a permit, according to the DNREC.
The NOV said that sulfuric acid emissions should have been no greater than 0.07 lbs/hour (31.8 grams) but it was found to be emitting 0.16 lbs/hour (72.6 grams).
Hydrogen gas emissions should have been ‘not detectable by testing under the lowest achievable detection limit approved by the Department’, but instead were found to be at the level of 48.4 lbs/hour (22 kilograms) in the stack testing area and 9lb/hour (4kg) in the AGM battery formation area.
The NOV requires the company to address the issues raised within 60 days and apply for a new permit before June.
“We continue to work proactively with DNREC to dispute the basis of the NOV and to develop a path forward to resolve the matter. Clarios is committed to operating at the highest performance levels for environment, health and safety that is protective of both our employees and the communities in which we operate,” said Kari Pfisterer, director of corporate communications with Clarios.
In 2017, the then Johnson Controls, now Clarios, applied to double its production of lead acid batteries from 4 million to 8 million a year, which entailed manufacturing lead oxide, making positive and negative plates, and drying and curing assembled batteries.
It was granted a permit for extra operations, which included modifying its existing two mills and adding another four, and adding two more pasting lines to its existing two.
Johnson Controls had also proposed adding various pollution controls, such as installing a central vacuum system, and said emissions would reduce by 57%.
The Division of Air Quality recommended approving 23 construction permits.
Violations such as storing hazardous waste for longer than 90 days were identified after an inspection by the DNREC in July 2018, and Johnson Controls took steps to address the violations.
In an Administrative Penalty Order in November 2018, DNREC said Johnson Controls had violated statutory and regulatory provisions because of “failure to demonstrate confirmation of delivery of the contingency plan to the local authorities” — yet in the same Administrative Penalty Order admitted that Johnson Controls was unable to prove it had delivered the plan “because USPS (US Postal Service) periodically purges records of certified mail delivery”.
The Order also said “submitted documentation corrected the violations to the satisfaction of SHWMS” (Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances of Delaware) but ordered Johnson Controls to pay a penalty of $12,600.