The Ohio EPA has issued a notice of violation to Ultium Cells in Lordstown over the plant exceeding volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from a carbon-activated tower at the plant in Lordstown.

According to the Ohio EPA filing, Ultium Cells must submit a corrective plan of action by September 7 to reduce the VOC emissions, which must control at least 98 percent of the emissions. 

During the initial setup for air quality testing on June 21, it was noted that inlet and outlet concentrations of total organic compounds on the carbon tower were not being met.

A stack test at the facility on July 13 showed that a rental combustion unit is eliminating VOCs emissions at the tower at 74.2 percent.

The failure to remove VOC emissions per the Ohio EPA permit violates Ohio Revised Code for air pollution, and enforceable limitations.

The Ohio EPA told 21 News that underperforming air pollution control equipment is not common.

In its written response, the Ohio EPA stated it requires emissions testing once a unit is installed to verify that the control equipment is working properly. 

"Because the emission testing indicated the operation was not meeting the limits in the permit - controlling a minimum of 98 percent of emissions - this was considered an emissions violation. The emissions that are being emitted, however, are at low enough levels that would not be expected to impact overall ambient air quality," Anthony Chenault, Ohio EPA public information officer, said.

"The June 21 test results show that the temporary combustion unit currently in place to control Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) emissions is only controlling 74.2 percent of emissions. July 13, 2023, testing showed emissions rates of 3.77 pounds VOC per hour at the inlet (uncontrolled) and 0.976 pounds per hour at the outlet (controlled). Therefore, although the permitted control efficiency is not being met, the air quality itself is acceptable. Ohio EPA is working closely with the facility on a permanent solution," Chenault said.

Chenault said the facility is required to respond to the Notice of Violation by September 7 to explain why their emissions over the time period were not being met. 

Ultium Cells will be required to submit a corrective action plan detailing how the emissions unit will be brought back into compliance, which will likely require modifying the existing permit, the Ohio EPA said.

Katie Burdette, the communications director for Ultium Cells, supplied an email response comfirming the violation which read, "Ultium Cells received a Notice of Violation from the Ohio EPA related to emission testing and the control efficiency of the activated carbon tower for the formation degas process. The facility will provide a timely response with a corrective action plan to address the NOV and is continuing to coordinate with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency on this matter.  The safety and wellbeing of our team members is our top priority at Ultium Cells, there is no public or employee safety concern related to this Notice of Violation.