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EPA fines Iowa ethanol producer for alleged clean air act violations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will collect a $89,860 penalty from POET Biorefining – Menlo LLC, a bioethanol producer in Menlo, Iowa, to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

The company is a subsidiary of POET LLC, the world’s largest producer of biofuel. According to EPA, the Menlo facility is a “major air emission source” that failed to comply with federally enforceable permit provisions intended to limit harmful releases of air pollution.

After reviewing POET Biorefining facility records in 2022, EPA alleged that the company failed to properly operate the facility’s scrubber, which is designed to limit releases of volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants. In response to EPA’s findings, the company corrected the alleged violations and implemented procedures to ensure that the scrubber operates within required parameters.

According to EPA, POET Biorefining creates biofuels through fermentation of corn sugars, which can emit volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants. Volatile organic compounds are compounds that have a high vapor pressure and easily evaporate. Direct or long-term exposure to VOCs may result in eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, organ or central nervous system damage, or cancer. Hazardous air pollutants are those known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health impacts, such as reproductive effects, birth defects, or adverse environmental effects.

Reducing air pollution from the largest sources of emissions is a top priority for EPA.

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