St. Johnsville manufacturer fined again over emissions records

Wednesday, March 6, 2013
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— St. Johnsville foam manufacturer Cellect LLC has a problem with its record-keeping, judging by a series of fines levied by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Over the last 13 years, the company has been fined seven times to the tune of $54,000, mostly for poorly kept or non-existent emissions records. DEC spokesman Rick Georgeson hesitated to comment on the company’s permit violations but said the firm has incurred “more than usual.”

The most recent fine, paid at the end of February, stemmed from a DEC inspection of the 12 New St. facility in late 2011.

Some emissions are inherent in Cellect’s business, but regulations laid out in their permit are in place to limit and track those emissions. Specifically, volatile organic compounds generated by foam production are passed through a thermal oxidizer, which by law must be kept at 650 degrees. The heat is meant to break down into less toxic compounds gasses like carbon monoxide, a poisonous greenhouse gas; oxides of nitrogen, which can cause acid rain; and other hazardous air pollutants. “The hotter it is, the more it breaks down the gasses,” Georgeson said.

Any variance in that temperature can allow more of those harmful gasses into the atmosphere, so the facility is required to keep constant records and send a report to the DEC explaining any change. Despite Cellect’s lack of such records, inspectors reportedly found evidence of 46 temperature fluctuations between 2009 and 2012.

Cellect’s permit also requires daily visual checks of various parts of the emissions system, records of all startups and shutdowns, and a semiannual report of any excess emissions.

According to DEC records, the most recent round of violations cost Cellect $11,000, with the threat of $11,000 more if they don’t comply with their permit in the next few months.

February’s fine is just another in a long line of similar violations. In 2000, back when Cellect was known as Sentinel Polyolefins LLC, the company was fined $2,000 for not submitting the results from mandatory emissions tests. It was fined again for the same thing a year later, then again in 2002 and 2008 and twice in 2009.

Calls to Cellect CEO Scott Smith were not returned Wednesday. Requests for comment at the Cellect office were funneled to Steven Greenblatt, a lawyer for the company who declined comment except to say that Cellect has “a close relationship with the DEC.”

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