Phoenix City, Alabama (WRBL) — According to documents obtained exclusively by WRBL, the Phoenix City carbon black manufacturing plant is scheduled to close at the end of the month.
After years of failing to make mandatory upgrades to its factories and suffering a multi-million dollar jury verdict, the Continental Carbon Company will close on December 31st.
In a letter dated December 8 to Plant Manager Greg Johnston, Continental Carbon received notice from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management that it must cease operations by December 31.
The company produces carbon black, a substance used to reinforce rubber in car tires. It is also used in plastics, inks and coatings applications. The facility employs approximately 120 people and is located on State Docks Road in Phoenix City.
The company now operates under license from ADEM. And the company was under a federal consent order that mandated improvements to its factories.
“Pursuant to the requirements of the Consent Decree (5:15-cv-0090-F) filed on March 23, 2015 and amended on December 22, 2017, the CCC will require multiple air pollution Prevention systems should be installed and operational at the factory in 2022,” read a letter from ADEM Aviation Chief Ronald W. Gore. “According to previous communications between the CCC, the Department, and the EPA, the CCC indicated that it had not initiated the installation of the required control system and would not install it by the deadline. We have concluded that the Phoenix City plant must be closed by December 31, 2022.”
According to the letter, Continental Carbon has been telegraphing the shutdown for months despite 11-hour efforts at the state and federal levels to seek permit extensions.
“The department understands that CCC intends to do so, based on information received during a recent inspection by ADEM Aviation Department personnel at the factory,” the letter reads. “Because CCC does not have the legal authority to operate the Phoenix City plant after December 31, 2022 and CCC has stated that it plans to cease operations, effective January 1, 2023, Source operating license number 211-0003 will be revoked.”
WRBL reached out to Continental Carbon plant manager Greg Johnstone. He hasn’t responded to phone messages.
Sean Carrigan, Phoenix City’s director of economic development, told WRBL on Friday:
“We were informed in the summer that the factory would be closing on December 31st,” said Carrigan. “We have not received a notice from Continental Carbon to the contrary.”
Continental Carbon Inc. China Synthetic Rubber Corp. was subject to a 2007 federal jury verdict. That jury awarded residents of the City of Columbus, Action Marine, and South Columbus $19.5 million in damages for damages caused by emissions from the power plant.
Some Alabama officials, including Phoenix City, and Alabama Governor Kay Ivey wrote letters to the EPA in support of the third extension.
The Columbus City Council passed a resolution in October opposing the EPA’s extension.
Oakland Park residents Arnold and Didra Spencer have been dealing with carbon black dust for over 20 years. They believe the black dust comes from a carbon black plant just across the Chattahoochee River.
Here’s what Deidra Spencer had to say on Friday about the possible plant closure.
“The most positive information I’m hearing right now is that they might do something.
Reporter: But you won’t believe it…
“…until I see. And with that in mind, the big job is coming. And I think you’ve seen it.”
Factory closures create a hole in Phoenix City’s economy. The 120 jobs are creating an economic impact of about $6.5 million, Johnston said in a letter to East Alabama newspapers in his Aug. 2020 acquisition of a third EPA extension to keep it running. said when asking residents to write letters of support for the power plant.
In the letter, Johnstone said the company will invest more than $100 million in the facility to install new controls.
The plant spent an additional $4 million on local businesses and paid more than $550,000 in taxes annually to local, state, and federal authorities, Johnstone wrote.
https://www.wkrg.com/alabama-news/alabama-carbon-black-plant-to-shut-down-at-end-of-the-month-due-to-lack-of-permit/ Alabama carbon black plant to close at the end of the month due to lack of permits