Bridgestone-Firestone is asking to pay a fine and buy propane powered lawn mowers for the community Parks and Recreation Department to settle air pollution violations at its tire making plant in Normal. The U.S. EPA filed the case against Bridgestone Firestone more than a year ago based on data the Environmental Protection Agency says shows the plant exceeded the 38.1 tons of Volatile Organic Matter it is allowed to release each year into the air. The EPA says the violations happened in 2010 and 2011 and could stem from a plant expansion. The agency says the industrial solvent used to make rubber adhere to tires is an ozone and smog producer and causes health problems downwind of the plant, especially among people who already have lung conditions. Since the notice of violation the government and the Japan based company with U.S. headquarters in Nashville, TN have been talking back and forth. Bridgestone says in a statement that its emissions were below the maximum, but that the company method of calculation used to allocate emissions between specific tire building machines did not live up to the EPA permit rules. The company tells GLT it has agreed to pay a fine to settle the case and has proposed investing some of the penalty money in propane powered mowers for city parks. Bridgestone says the mowers will be quieter and cleaner than the existing diesel mower engines. The EPA has yet to sign off on the deal and the company is not releasing details. Town of Normal officials say they do not yet know anything about the proposal.
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