Ralcorp, Post Foods cited for air violations at California plant

The former parent company of Carriage House and Petri’s Baking has been cited by the federal government for pollution.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Friday announced that Ralcorp Holdings and Post Holdings, Inc. will pay $635,000 for violations of the federal Clean Air Act, including failing to install required air pollution controls at its cereal production facility located in Modesto, Calif. The penalty is in addition to approximately $1.4 million the company has already spent on equipment necessary to reduce emissions.

“Like many large manufacturers, Post operates multiple plants across the nation, and ensuring that they have proper air pollution controls in place is critical,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our goal is to protect the public from harmful ozone and particulate.”

Federal investigators found that certain types of equipment at the facility, such as cereal coaters and dryers, were emitting volatile organic compounds (VOCs) without required pollution-reducing controls. EPA also found that the facility did not have all required operating permits.

The additional $1.4 million was spent by the company in 2012 on the installation and operation of equipment that captures and controls emissions, reducing VOCs from the facility’s operations line by 95 percent. Friday’s settlement also requires the facility to monitor emissions and provide quarterly reports to EPA.

VOC emissions are considered a precursor to ozone and particulate pollution. The San Joaquin Valley violates the federal air quality standard for both ozone and particulate pollution and has some of the poorest air quality in the nation.

Post, headquartered in Battle Creek, Mich., is a manufacturer, marketer and distributor of ready-to-eat cereals in the United States. The 282,000-square-foot Modesto plant manufactures products like Grape-Nuts and Banana Nut Crunch. In April 2013, Post announced that it will, for operational purposes, shift production to its other manufacturing facilities by September 2014. Ralcorp Holdings, Inc. purchased Post Holdings, Inc. in 2008 but later split off from the company in 2012.

The proposed consent decree for the settlement was lodged with the U.S. District Court, on behalf of the U.S. EPA and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution District, Friday and is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval.

Ralcorp Holdings previously owned Carriage House in Fredonia and Dunkirk as well as Petri’s Baking in Silver Creek. ConAgra later purchased Carriage House and Petri Baking was eventually closed.