Times-News file photo.
KINGSPORT — Eastman Chemical Co. plans to spend $200 million to reduce air pollution at its Kingsport plant as part of a $1.3 billion modernization project at the site.
“This will be the largest single air pollution control project ever undertaken at Eastman’s Tennessee operations,” said Parker Smith, Eastman’s vice president and general manager of Worldwide Manufacturing Support.
As part of the project, Eastman will install air pollution control equipment on five industrial boilers. The company is in the process of choosing an engineering firm, and construction is expected to take place between 2009 and 2013.
The project is expected to remove about 90 percent of the sulfur dioxide emitted as a byproduct from the coal-fired boilers. Overall, the project will reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 60 percent at the plant.
“We are hopeful this project will not only assist Tennessee in meeting its regional haze goals under the Clean Air Act, but will also help our area here in Northeast Tennessee stay ahead of the curve and remain in attainment of all relevant air quality standards,” Smith said. “Attainment status ensures our air meets all federal air quality standards at all times and that our economy can continue to grow and prosper.”
The Tennessee Division of Air Pollution Control is working with industries such as Eastman to help reduce emissions and improve visibility in national parks and wilderness areas, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The division is accepting public comment on its plan for visibility improvement. Eastman’s investment to reduce air emissions is part of that plan.
Sulfur dioxide is not among the pollutants on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory. But other pollutants that will be reduced by Eastman’s plan are included in the TRI.
Eastman cut its total TRI emissions in Kingsport by 72.5 percent between 1987 and 2005. The company expects this latest project to decrease TRI emissions by 30 percent in Kingsport from 2006 levels.
The air pollution control project is part of the $1.3 billion “Project Reinvest” announced earlier this year by Eastman. The company plans to modernize the plant during the next five years, investing about $265 million every year at the Kingsport site through 2012.
Headquartered in Kingsport, Eastman manufactures and markets chemicals, fibers and plastics, employing 11,000 worldwide, including 7,500 in Kingsport.