Lotte Chemical, which has completed the construction of its ethane cracking center (ECC) and ethylene glycol (EG) plants in Lake Charles, Louisiana on May 9 (local time), is under investigation by the government for alleged manipulation of fine dust emissions.
The Environment Ministry is investigating under the assumption that 25 companies, including Lotte Chemical, GS Caltex and Kumho Petrochemical, colluded with four air pollution emission measurement companies.
Businesses that emit air pollutants should periodically measure air pollutant emissions on their own or request a qualified measurement agency to do so. However, they are accused of avoiding administrative disposal and payment of fines by falsely reporting them, such as conspiring with agencies and intentionally lowering their actual emissions.
If a conclusion comes out that the majority of petrochemical companies, which used to advocate eco-friendly products and co-prosperity with the region, have conspired and neglected to emit fine dust, the impact is expected to be significant.
"We are deeply aware of the gravity of the issue and are doing our best to find out the truth of the investigation," Lotte Chemical said.
Meanwhile, GS Caltex and Kumho Petrochemical said they are sincerely engaged in the ministry's investigation.
Meanwhile, Lotte Chemical completed the construction of a petrochemical complex in the U.S. on May 9 that can produce 1 million tons of ethylene by investing $3.1 billion.
With the completion of the U.S. plant, Lotte Chemical's global ethylene production volume has grown to 4.5 million tons annually. It is the world's seventh-largest producer.
The U.S. plant uses locally produced shale gas as a raw material. "The full-fledged operation of the U.S. plant has reduced reliance on naphtha and minimized risks from changes in oil prices by increasing the portion of gas materials," Lotte Chemical said.
"The $3.1 billion investment is the largest investment in the U.S. since the inauguration of the Trump administration and the largest investment by a South Korean company in a chemical plant in the U.S.," U.S. President Donald Trump said in a congratulatory speech read by Deputy White House policy coordination adviser Sylvia Davis.