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 Activists Mike Ewall, left, and Zulene Mayfield stand in front of the Covanta incinerator in Chester, Pennsylvania. The incinerator brings in garbage from New York, Ohio and other states. Photograph: Hannah Yoon/The Guardian


The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has fined PQ Corp., a global manufacturer of materials and chemicals, $750,000 for air quality and other violations at a large Chester facility it operates.

PQ, based in Malvern, owns a 173,000-square-foot plant on West Front Street, where the DEP says emissions exceeded allowances for nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide at various times from 2014 to 2018.

The facility produces sodium silicate, a chemical compound derived from sand and soda ash. Sodium silicate is used in a wide variety of products, including hair colorings, cleaners, and water treatment systems.

The DEP also found that the company failed to provide records and data required as part of its air quality permit to operate the facility. The company is required to monitor emissions, but sometimes failed to submit reports on time.ADVERTISEMENT

“This penalty reinforces how important it is for companies to accurately control, track, and report their emissions,” DEP Southeast Regional Director Pat Patterson said in a statement. “Failure to comply with environmental regulations is not acceptable to the department. Collecting penalties and fines is important, but bringing polluters into compliance as quickly as possible is the ultimate goal towards protecting the people and environment of the commonwealth.”

The company issued a statement saying it agreed to pay the penalty.

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“During the past year, PQ has continued to make progress in reducing its air emissions and improving operating and maintenance practices at the Chester facility,” said the statement. “These include creating a process improvement team, rebuilding the existing furnace, and putting measures in place which allow the plant to operate more efficiently and effectively.”

Chester City is eligible to receive a portion of the penalty, which can be used for projects designed to reduce pollution or for parks, recreation, trails, or open space.