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EPA settles with H. Kramer and Co. for clean air violations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of Illinois have signed a consent decree with H. Kramer and Co., to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act and state air pollution violations at the firm’s copper smelting foundry in the southwest side of Chicago. Under the terms of the settlement, H. Kramer will spend $3 million on new state-of-the-art pollution controls for the foundry, pay a $35,000 penalty and provide $40,000 to retrofit diesel school buses operating in the neighborhood and surrounding areas with controls to reduce air emissions.

The settlement resolves the federal government’s allegations that H. Kramer failed to maintain and operate furnaces at the foundry in a manner which controls lead emissions and that the company violated the Illinois State Implementation Plan by causing or allowing releases of lead into the air. The settlement also resolves Illinois’ claims that H. Kramer’s activities at the foundry resulted in lead emissions that caused or contributed to air pollution and created danger to the public and the environment. The consent decree requires H. Kramer to install new filters and other controls on two furnaces to reduce emissions and to continue to limit production of two lead alloys until the new equipment is installed.

On November 22, 2011, EPA announced that air quality in part of Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood exceeds the national air quality standard for lead. EPA’s determination was based on data collected from a state air quality monitor located on the roof of the Manuel Perez Jr. Elementary School. The H. Kramer facility is located in the area that violates the lead air quality standard – which is bounded by Damen Avenue to the west, Roosevelt Road to the north, the Dan Ryan Expressway to the east and the Stevenson Expressway to the south.

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval.