Addis retains its small-town charm as it prepares for its centennial _lowres

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Sign greeting motorists entering Addis on southbound La. 1. The town is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its incorporation.

Federal authorities have recommended fining an energy company nearly $1.5 million after it failed to install pollution control devices at three of its plants, including one in Addis, allowing the release of potentially harmful substances.

Sid Richardson Carbon, Limited skirted the legal permitting process and failed to install pollution control devices at three plants in Texas and Louisiana, according to the Department of Justice's Environmental and Natural Resources Division.

Failure to install the devices allowed the release of substances that can harm people's respiratory systems, form acid rain, damage plant life, pollute coastal waters, contribute to smog and cause haze, according to documents filed in the U.S. District court in Baton Rouge.

The company produces carbon black, a petroleum derivative used in the manufacture of rubber goods such as vehicle tires. Rather than go to court, Sid Richardson Carbon has agreed to take several steps to reduce the release of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter created at their plants in Addis as well as at Texas facilities in Borger and Big Spring.

They will also pay $333,000 each to the Department of Justice, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the state of Texas. Sid Richardson must also spend at least $490,000 on projects that reduce particulate matter pollution near Addis and Big Spring.

Particulate matter can refer to any very small solids or liquid droplets found in the air emitted from smokestacks, construction sites, automobiles and more, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Dust, dirt, soot and smoke can all be classified as particulate matter, though "these particles come in many different sizes and shapes and can be made of hundreds of different chemicals," the EPA wrote on its website. Inhaling particulate matter can damage the airways and even cause heart problems if the substances find their way into the bloodstream.

Sid Richardson Carbon consented to add equipment such as filters or vacuums to prevent particulate matter from escaping into the atmosphere. The company also agreed to a plan for storing and shipping carbon black products, training employees in leak detection and other precautions to limit releases.

The public has until the end of January to comment on the proposed consent decree, though government regulators and the company have both agreed to the terms.

Sid Richardson Carbon did not respond to phone calls Monday seeking comment at their Addis plant or corporate headquarters. The plant is at 5221 Sid Richardson Road, just across the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge.

Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter, @SteveRHardy.