HOPEWELL, Va. – AdvanSix, the Hopewell chemical plant raided by state and federal agents Tuesday, said the investigation appears to be related to emissions and compliance with a previous settlement with the federal government.
In a statement Wednesday, the company said authorities executed a search warrant and separately served a subpoena.
“While the Company is still working to determine the reason and nature of yesterday’s actions, they appear to relate to the facility’s environmental air emissions and its compliance under the previously disclosed 2013 consent decree with the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia,” the company wrote in a statement.
AdvanSix was previously cited for air pollution violations in 2013. The company agreed to pay $3 million after violating federal and state air pollution regulations. According to the complaint filed by EPA and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the facility violated Clean Air Act limits on emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx), benzene and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and particulate matter. The plant also allegedly failed to comply with requirements to upgrade air pollution control equipment, to detect and repair leaks of hazardous air pollutants, and to develop safeguards on benzene waste.
As part of that case, Honeywell agreed to reduce harmful air pollutants, install selective catalytic reduction at four production trains at the facility, conduct third-party benzene waste operations audit, and implement enhanced leak detection and repair program at the facility. The settlement was intended to reduce annual emissions of NOx by about 6,260 tons, and cuts annual emissions of benzene, other VOCs and hazardous air pollutants by 100 tons, according to the EPA.
The facility was last inspected by the EPA on Sept. 19, 2017 and a significant violation was uncovered. Three months earlier the same facility was found in noncompliance.
The other AdvanSix facility in Chester has also been found in noncompliance. As recently as January 2018, the facility was found to have surpassed the maximum allotment for total organic carbon in wastewater discharge, for the fourth time since August 31, 2016, according to EPA data.
The AdvanSix plant in Hopewell is "one of the world’s largest single-site producers of caprolactam," according to the company's website. Caprolactam is used to make carpet fibers, plastics and films.
More than 750 people work in the Hopewell facility.
In the statement, the company says they are fully cooperating with authorities in the investigation.
AdvanSix said production across its sites was not affected by the raid and they plan to continue normal operations moving forward.