The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Dept. on April 9 announced Clean Air Act settlements with two major corporations that the government says will significantly reduce air pollution.

Archer Daniels Midland, Decatur, Ill., reached an agreement with the government that requires the agribusiness giant to spend about $340 million to make improvements at 52 plants in 16 states.

In a separate settlement, Alcoa Inc., Pittsburgh, agreed to spend about $330 million to install a new coal-fired powerplant with state-of-the-art pollution controls to cut sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions at its aluminum production facility in Rockdale, Texas. That plant has the largest industrial boiler in the U.S. and is the largest non-utility source of NOx and SO2 in the country, according to EPA officials.

Justice and EPA assert that Alcoa did not obtain the necessary permits or
install necessary pollution controls when it overhauled the Rockdale powerplant, as the New Source Review provision of the clean air law requires.

"Let no on think that we won' t enforce the law, " says EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman.

Under the terms of the settlement, Alcoa will elect within a year one of three options for achieving the required emissions reductions: install new pollution controls on its existing powerplant; replace its existing powerplant with new electricity generating units and pollution controls; or shut down the powerplant. "We fully expect they will replace them with cleaner units," says John Peter Suarez, EPA's assistant administrator for enforcement. Alcoa also will pay a $1.5-million civil penalty and spend at least $2.5 million on two additional projects that will partially offset the impact of past emissions.

ADM's cost for the retrofits and installation of new controls will be spread over 10 years and include $213 million for capital improvements, such as air pollution control equipment, which are expected to eliminate at least 63,000 tons of pollutants annually. According to the government, ADM's manufacturing processes "result in emissions of significant quantities of regulated air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds (VOC) and hazardous air pollutants (HAP).? Under the settlement, ADM will install state-of-the-art controls on a large number of units, shut down some of the oldest and dirtiest facilities and take emission limits on other units.

The government contends that ADM failed to accurately estimate emissions from hundreds of process units, and expanded other units without installing required air pollution control technology, a violation of New Source Review. ADM also will accept new, more stringent emission limits for VOC and HAP. Regulators say the revised limits will set new standards for industry. The settlement requires ADM to fund extensive environmental audits at all facilities and perform continuous emission monitoring. The company will pay a $4.6-million civil penalty and spend $6.3 million on supplemental environmental projects.

Neither company could be immediately reached for comment.