Plant has implemented rigorous program rendering part of the current request unnecessary
LOUISVILLE, Ky., April 13, 2017 — American Synthetic Rubber Company announced today that it will withdraw a portion of its request for modification of certain STAR (Strategic Toxic Air Reduction) program goals currently pending with Louisville’s Air Pollution Control District. A public hearing to consider ASRC’s request is scheduled with the District on April 19.
ASRC previously reported to the District an increase of higher “fugitive” emissions of 1,3-butadiene, an essential ingredient in the synthetic rubber process, for 2013 and 2014 compared to previous years. The increase exceeded the STAR goal related to emissions of all toxic air contaminants from all ASRC processes on industrial property. Fugitive emissions are small leaks that occur at valves and connections among the many miles of piping within the plant. Consistent with the regulatory framework of the STAR program, in late 2015, ASRC requested a modification of this STAR goal. ASRC has continually maintained compliance with the STAR goal related to emissions of all toxic air contaminants from all ASRC processes on non-industrial property.
However, since its original request for modification of that goal, ASRC conducted a rigorous root-cause analysis to determine the reasons for the increase in 1,3-butadiene fugitive emissions. Once the causes were determined, the facility invested both substantial time and resources to reduce fugitive emissions plant-wide, which included, among other things:
- Quarterly monitoring of most 1,3-butadiene components
- Replacing certain components with new and improved technology
- Reducing the threshold definition of a leak below the level prescribed by federal regulation of detected 1,3-butadiene emissions to initiate a repair from the equivalent of 500 ppm to 250 ppm
- Using engineered enclosures to more rapidly repair leaks
The practices undertaken by the facility to reduce fugitive emissions are some of the most stringent in the country and have resulted in a significant reduction in fugitive emissions. As a result, this achievement has rendered a portion of the request pending with the District unnecessary since the plant is in compliance with this STAR goal.
“As a responsible corporate citizen, ASRC has taken the necessary actions to substantially reduce emissions at the plant,” said Guillaume Coiraton, plant manager for ASRC in Louisville. “Based on the plant’s record of measured results, we are convinced that we can operate the plant within the District’s framework. We don’t believe modification on this particular STAR goal is necessary any longer.”
Michelin and ASRC have worked vigorously to reduce emissions of 1,3-butadiene and all other contaminants at the plant, starting even before the District implemented the STAR program in 2005. In 2004, ASRC initiated plans to install a flare thermal oxidizer to capture and incinerate contaminants. When completed in 2006, the flare thermal oxidizer reduced the plant’s stack emissions by more than 90 percent. ASRC then focused its attention on further reducing fugitive emissions. ASRC successfully reduced fugitive emissions within the plant since 2013, and the plant now operates at a level below the District’s threshold for emissions of all toxic air contaminants from all of the facility’s processes on industrial property.
“ASRC has developed solid and collaborative relationships with APCD personnel, and more importantly, with our neighbors who live near the site,” Coiraton said. “We remain confident that APCD will recognize the hard work that our team has accomplished at this plant and approve the processes that have been implemented. We look forward to continuing our engagement with the community throughout the District’s public hearing process.”
About American Synthetic Rubber Company
ASRC produces synthetic rubber, which delivers essential performance advantages when combined with natural rubber and other components in the production of tires for all types of vehicles. Built in 1942, Michelin began investing in American Synthetic Rubber Company (ASRC) in the 1980s and fully acquired the site in the 1990s. This year, ASRC will celebrate 75 years of operation in the Louisville, Ky., area. The plant’s mission is to produce synthetic elastomers to supply Michelin’s tire production factories, and industrialize new elastomers, resulting from research, which will help create the tires of tomorrow. ASRC produces more than 360 million pounds of synthetic rubber per year, or approximately 1 million pounds per day. Approximately 370 employees work at the site.