Vita Craft Corp. has reached a settlement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate hazardous air pollution emissions from its plant in Shawnee, earning praise from regulators for going beyond the requirements of the law.
The company, headquartered at 11100 W. 58th St., manufactures high-end metal cookware.
Following an EPA inspection last September, the agency said it found that the plant emissions of a hazardous air pollutant called perchloroethylene exceeded regulatory thresholds. The company then approached the EPA with a proposal to eliminate the so-called PCE emissions entirely.
“This is a unique settlement where the company proposed to go beyond what is required by law to improve air quality in the local community,” Rebecca Weber, EPA’s Region 7 Air and Waste Management Division director said in a statement this week. Region 7 is based in Lenexa.
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While the EPA said in its statement that companies are allowed to use and emit PCE up to an annual limit, Vita Craft opted to modify its manufacturing process by installing an aqueous degreaser. This equipment will eliminate more than eight tons of PCE emissions annually, resulting in zero PCE emissions from the plant, the EPA said.
Gary Martin, president of Vita Craft, said Thursday the company looked at the emissions problem as a “challenge (to) make it better for everyone.”
Martin also said that for the company, revamping the manufacturing process “was the best move for our factory from an efficiency and operational standpoint. This is a positive thing.”
Martin said the company invested more than $500,000 for the new equipment.
Under the agreement with the EPA, the new degreaser is scheduled to be operating by October. “We’re actually ahead of schedule,” Martin said. The old equipment has been removed and the new equipment is being prepared for the manufacturing process.
Vita Craft, which was founded in 1939, has about 27 employees.
Steve Rosen: 816-234-4879