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Iowa-Based Fertilizer Producer Fined for Clean Air Act Violations at Nine Plants

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One of the nation's largest producers of nitric acid and nitrogen fertilizers has agreed to pay more than $500,000 in civil penalties to settle alleged violations of pollution laws at nine of its plants in Iowa, Mississippi and Oklahoma. The company will also spend an estimated $17 million to install and implement safeguards to reduce harmful emissions by at least 1,200 tons per year.

Terra Industries Inc., headquartered in Sioux City prior to a 2010 buyout, was a major U.S. producer of nitrogen fertilizers, including anhydrous ammonia, urea, ammonia nitrate and urea-ammonium nitrate. The company also produces nitric acid, a key intermediate in the manufacture of ammonium nitrate and urea-ammonium nitrate. The production of nitric acid, according to government officials, results in the emission of nitrogen oxides, which can cause lung damage, worsen respiratory diseases, contribute to acid rain, and lead to the formation of smog.

In order to settle alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act, Terra has agreed to pay $325,000 to federal officials and $100,000 each to the state of Iowa, state of Mississippi and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality co-plaintiffs in the action filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Sioux City.

Terra's nine places included in the settlement are four nitric acid plants in Yazoo City, Miss., two in Verdigris, Okla., one in Woodward, Okla. and two in Sergeant Bluff.

According to the consent decree, Terra allegedly constructed, modified, and operated its facilities without obtaining appropriate pre-construction and operating permits, and without installing best available control technology for controlling air pollution. Terra also allegedly violated the Clean Air Act by failing to comply with applicable air emission limits and ongoing requirements for emissions monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting at some of its facilities. 

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