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For Release: Saturday, May 15, 2021

DEC Directs PVS Chemical Solutions, Inc., to Temporarily Cease Operations

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in consultation with the State Department of Health (DOH), today directed PVS Chemical Solutions, Inc., to temporarily cease operations at its Buffalo facility, effective immediately, due to a public health risk to users of the nearby athletic field at the Medaille College Sports Complex at Buffalo Color Park. DEC and DOH directed the facility to cease operations after monitoring at the athletic field found exceedances of emissions of Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) from the facility. State agencies are directing PVS to cease operations until the facility is able to demonstrate it can operate in a manner that does not pose a threat to public health.

"After repeated exceedances of air quality standards, I am directing PVS Chemical Solutions to cease operations, effective immediately," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "Until PVS can prove it can operate without emitting potentially harmful SO2 into this community, either by altering operations or scaling back production, it should remain shuttered. DEC will not hesitate to use our full regulatory authority to protect this community from exposure to potentially dangerous pollution."

"My staff are coordinating with the Department of Environmental Conservation in this investigation to ensure that public health is protected and immediate exposure risk is mitigated," said New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.

DEC and DOH experts are working closely with local entities including the Erie County Health Department to ensure proper closure of the PVS facility and to respond to questions from local residents.

In response to concerns raised by users of the nearby sports complex about odors and potential respiratory issues, DEC deployed an ambient air monitoring trailer in 2020, adjacent to the athletic field downwind of the PVS facility to conduct sampling for SO2. Sampling data showed numerous exceedances of the SO2 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), which led DEC to issue Notices of Violation in 2020 and commence an administrative enforcement action in March 2021 to address these air quality violations.

DEC redeployed the monitoring trailer on March 31, 2021, following a seasonal suspension, to continue SO2 monitoring. In April, data showed additional NAAQS SO2 exceedances. DEC immediately consulted with DOH to determine if exposure to these levels could cause acute health impacts. DOH determined hazardous SO2 conditions at the athletic field are creating a public health threat that requires immediate action. In particular, DOH's review of sampling data found that the number and duration of these unhealthy air episodes is of particular risk to exercising individuals and to other vulnerable groups, including asthmatics.

DEC and DOH will continue to monitor SO2 to assess all potential impacts from facility emissions. In addition, DEC and DOH will work with the Department of Labor and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to investigate any potential exposures to the facility's employees.

Sulfur dioxide is a colorless gas with a pungent odor and taste. SO2 exposure can cause irritation and permanent damage to the lungs. SO2 can be transported over long distances and contributes to the formation of acid rain, which damages plant and animal life. Inhalable sulfate particulate matter formed from SO2 can impair visibility. For more information, visit EPA's website.

PVS Chemical Solutions, Inc., owns and operates this facility at 55 Elk Street in Buffalo, that manufactures all strengths and grades of sulfuric acid and oleum using the contact process. Additional substances produced and stored at the facility include ammonium thiosulfate and sodium bisulfite. Raw materials for these processes include molten sulfur, spent sulfuric acid, anhydrous ammonia, sodium hydroxide, and sodium carbonate. The facility operates seven days a week, 24 hour days, 365 days a year.

The letter to PVS Chemical Solutions, Inc. is available for viewing at DEC's website.

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