A Botetourt County automotive parts factory released excessive levels of hydrochloric acid into the air, according to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

Dynax America Corp. agreed to pay a fine of $168,204 and fix the problems in a recent agreement with state regulators.

Hydrochloric acid is listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a hazardous air pollutant, meaning that it is known or suspected to cause serious health problems or adverse environmental impacts.

The releases described in a consent order did not lead to any documented harm to the public or the environment, according to Robert Steele, senior enforcement agent for the DEQ.

Calls to the company were not returned Monday.

Hydrochloric acid, a colorless gas with a pungent odor, is used in a variety of industries.

A permit issued to Dynax in 2017 by DEQ sets the maximum amount of hydrochloric acid emissions at 0.08 pounds per hour.

Stack tests performed by the company and received by regulators in December 2017 showed the release rate to be 0.45 pounds per hour. A second round of tests, in July 2018, found an emissions rate of 0.53 pounds per hour.

As part of the agreement, Dynax agreed to pay the fine and submit a plan to DEQ detailing how it will return to compliance. It has 30 days from the effective date of the consent order, June 19, to submit the plan. No plan had been filed by Monday.

Dynax, located in the EastPark Commerce Center near Bonsack, manufactures friction-based parts for use in automobiles, which mainly consist of clutch discs, blades and synchronizer rings.

With more than 500 workers, it is one of Botetourt County’s largest employers, according to the county’s most recent annual financial report.

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Laurence Hammack covers environmental issues, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and business and enterprise stories. He has been a reporter for The Roanoke Times for more than three decades.

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