PLASTICS NEWS, December 1, 2009

Former Bayer Plant: Ohio school district sues Ineos and Lanxess

An Ohio school district has filed a lawsuit against Ineos ABS USA Corp. and its majority owner, Lanxess Corp., seeking damages for alleged air pollution from an ABS resin plant operating in Addyston.
The board of education of the Three Rivers Local School District - located in the far corner of southwest Ohio - filed the suit Nov. 24 in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in Cincinnati. The board is seeking unspecified damages from Ineos ABS and from Lanxess, which owned the plant before forming a joint venture with Ineos Group in 2007.
The district closed an elementary school located across the street from the ABS plant in 2005 after the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency reported unsafe levels of ABS feedstocks acrylonitrile and butadiene in the air near the school, officials said in the filing.
The district - with about 2,000 students - has been unable to re-open the school, causing crowding in other schools, officials added.
The district has divided some classrooms, held classes in a cafeteria and moved tutoring sessions into hallways to handle the space crunch, Three Rivers superintendent Rhonda Bohannon said by phone Dec. 1.
"You hate to feel like you're suing a neighbor," she said. "But if you ask whether the kids and the district lost out because of this, the answer would have to be yes."
In July, Ineos ABS and Lanxess paid a $3.1 million civil penalty levied by the U.S. EPA for violations of multiple environmental laws associated with the Addyston plant. Ineos ABS and Lanxess also agreed at the time to invest as much as $2 million to upgrade environmental controls at the site. That agreement comes only four years after Lanxess spent $1 million to improve air quality at the site, which employs about 300.
In spite of those improvements, school district officials said in the court filing that the elementary school "remains vacant, to this day, because emissions from the plant continue to exceed designated EPA standards."
Officials with Ineos ABS and laxness could not be reached for comment. In a Nov. 28 Associated Press story, Lanxess spokeswoman Terri Fitzpatrick said the firm "does not believe that emissions from the facility endangered the health, safety or welfare of the public."
Bayer Corp. - which spun off Lanxess in 2004 - bought the Addyston site from Monsanto Co. in 1995 and spent more than $100 million on technology upgrades there before including it in Lanxess. The plant has annual capacity of about 400 million pounds of ABS, and also produces styrene acrylonitrile resins.
No court dates have been set in the case. Bohannon declined to specify an amount that the district hopes to receive from the lawsuit. "We'll let the jury decide," she said. By Frank Esposito

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