Aerial view of Rain CII Carbon plant in Chalmette.

The EPA has extended the comment period on the St Bernard air quality review of the Rain CII Carbon plant.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has extended the public comment period on its decision to declare St. Bernard Parish out of compliance with its standards for sulfur dioxide pollution. The new deadline is Jan. 13. In a notice to be published in the Federal Register this week, EPA officials said the week-long extension resulted from a request for more time to file comments. It did not say who made the request. On Dec. 7, the agency announced that it would require the state Department of Environmental Quality to develop a plan to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide in the parish to levels that meet federal air quality standards. The proposed action in St. Bernard Parish has been nearly a decade in the making. EPA originally determined the parish was out of compliance in 2013, at which time Rain CII, a Chalmette firm that makes calcined petroleum coke, was determined to be mostly responsible for the high sulfur dioxide levels.

The plant is not unfamiliar with complaints and citations.

The state Department of Environmental Quality has cited Rain numerous times for sulfur dioxide and other emissions, including at least $75,000 in fines and $7,200 in enforcement costs to settle almost 150 violations of state regulations between 2006 and 2013. Calcined coke, a rock-like fuel that creates high temperatures when it burns, is used in making aluminum. Sulfur dioxide, released during its manufacture and its use as a fuel, is a colorless gas that can irritate noses and throats, impair breathing and cause lung illnesses. People with asthma, especially children, are highly sensitive to the gas. Several refineries and other industries in St. Bernard also release quantities of sulfur dioxide among their air emissions. Public comments on the EPA’s proposed declaration of noncompliance may be filed until Jan. 13 via, by citing Docket No. EPA-R06-OAR-2017-0558.

Live in St Bernard and want to comment? They want to hear from you!

More time allowed for comments on St Bernards air quality
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