A manufacturing plant that officials have called Ventura County's second-worst air polluter disclosed plans Friday to reduce emissions by 70% to 80% by the end of 1991.
County officials hailed the $4- million project by the Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co. in Camarillo, noting that the company's move was voluntary.
"It's not the kind of thing that businesses are coming running forward to do," said Richard Baldwin, director of the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District. Baldwin said 3M is in compliance with local, state and federal environmental regulations.
If its plan works, 3M will eliminate about 1.3% of the county's air pollution daily, said Baldwin, who called that reduction significant.
Larry Thomason, 3M plant manager, said the program is part of the corporation's worldwide effort to cut the company's air pollution by 70% by early 1993. The Camarillo facility, which produces magnetic tape, is one of the first of more than 100 3M plants worldwide to fully implement the program, he said.
Thomason, who said 3M was "playing an environmental leadership role," added that the new pollution control measures may thwart environmental and health lawsuits in the future.
"If you don't have the risk," he said, "then you don't have the liability."
At a news conference, Thomason said the measures are designed to reduce emissions by nearly 300 tons by 1991, reducing the plant's output of reactive organic compounds--a major constituent of smog--to less than 100 tons annually.
In the plan's first phase, a series of air ducts will trap "fugitive emissions," pollutants that escape into the air through vents. The ducts will be in operation by August, 1990, and will cost about $500,000.
The second phase, slated to begin by August, 1991, calls for an elaborate fine-tuning of pollutant recovery measures already in place, Thomason said.
The company intends eventually to add a third pollution-trapping phase, which is still in the early formative stages, and hopes to cut post-1993 emissions by 90% or more by the year 2000, he said.
Plant supervisor Gary Wess said the sophisticated pollutant-recovery system, which has been on the drawing board for 14 months, uses carbon filters to capture solvent-laden air before it leaves the plant. The captured vapor is then distilled and reused, he said.
The 3M plant ranks as the county's second-largest source of reactive organic compounds, behind the oil fields of Texaco Inc., county officials said.
The county has the sixth worst smog problem in the U.S., exceeding the national standard on more than 50 days last year, Baldwin said. On some days, the smog level exceeded the federal standard by up to 50%, he added.
'No Strings Attached'
Baldwin said the 3M effort has "no strings attached."
"They're not going to use these reductions as offsets for other pollution," he said. "They're going to return them to the district, and we're going to use them toward that goal of bringing the county into compliance with the state's clean air regulations."
The state has mandated a 5% yearly air-pollution reduction until Ventura County meets state and federal air pollution regulations, he said.
The company's plan was praised by Ventura County Supervisor Maggie Erickson, who represents the Camarillo area.
"They had the vision to see that we're going to have to clean up our air or the government is going to have to come in and do it for us," she said.