Crown Cork & Seal pays $60,173 for air quality violations in Steele County

Contact: Ralph Pribble, 651-757-2657

Crown Cork & Seal, a company that makes packaging products, has agreed to pay a $60,173 civil penalty to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for air quality violations at its manufacturing facility in Owatonna.

Crown Cork’s air permit limits its emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs, a class of commonly regulated air pollutants) to 100 tons a year, but the company disclosed that it exceeded that limit, in its required reporting to the MPCA in March. In 2019, the facility exceeded its emissions limits by 2.9 tons in October, 1.7 tons in November, and one ton in December.

Increased demand for one of the facility’s products caused the exceedances. The company’s permit requires it to estimate the effect that increased output may have on emissions, and take steps to avoid exceeding the facility’s permit limits. Failing to meet those requirements violates state and federal laws. In addition to the civil penalty, the company had to take corrective actions to prevent future excess emissions.

MPCA rules and regulations are designed to protect human health and the environment by limiting pollution emissions and discharges from facilities. When companies do not fully comply with regulatory requirements, the resulting pollution can be harmful to people and the environment.

When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violations affected the environment, whether they were first-time or repeat violations, and how promptly the violations were reported to authorities. The agency also attempts to recover the economic benefit the company gained by failing to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.