Innovent Air Handling penalized for air-quality violations

Contact: Stephen Mikkelson, 218-316-3887

St. Paul, Minn.--The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has penalized Greenheck Fan Corp., doing business in Minneapolis as Innovent Air Handling, LLC, a manufacturer of large heavy-duty air handling systems, for operating a paint booth that did not have a required air emissions permit.

The company conducted an environmental audit of all of its North American manufacturing locations in 2009, including the Minneapolis facility. The audit revealed that the previous owner of the facility had installed a spray coatings booth in 2006 without obtaining a required MPCA air quality permit for the installation and operation of the booth.

When the company discovered the lack of a permit, they took steps to bring the paint booth into compliance. In 2011, they hired a consultant to help determine what type of permit was needed, and submitted an application to the MPCA for a type of air emission permit called a registration permit, which is suitable for certain facilities with small amounts of emissions. However, the potential air emissions from the facility exceeded the maximum levels for which a registration permit would be appropriate, and the MPCA rejected the application.

Meanwhile, the company was required under state law to submit an annual emission inventory report to the MPCA for each year the paint booth was in operation, and to this date the MPCA has not received these reports.

To resolve the violations, Greenheck agreed to pay $50,000 to the state as a civil penalty. In addition, the company proposed to undertake work valued to at least $315,000 to switch over to paint with non-hazardous emissions in the facility’s primary paint system over the next 15 years, and to minimize the use of other paints or coatings in the facility.

The switch-over project may exceed $315,000 in cost, but the enforcement agreement obligates the facility to spend at least that much. The agreement also specifies that if the facility abandons the project prior to completion, it will pay an additional civil penalty of at least $78,750 to the state.

In addition to paying a the civil penalty and committing to the paint switch-over project, Greenheck also agreed to submit the required annual emission inventory reports for 2006 to 2012 and to pay unpaid air emission fees for those years. The company also will apply for the proper category of air quality permit and operate the facility in compliance with it until it is issued.

When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it is a first-time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. It also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner. Supplemental environmental projects, such as the paint switch-over project in this case, are often included in enforcement actions in lieu of further civil penalties when there is an opportunity to achieve additional environmental benefits through projects the regulated party has the capability to undertake and is willing to commit legally to follow through on them.

For a comprehensive list of enforcement actions by the MPCA, refer to the agency website at www.pca.state.mn.us.