Department of Justice, EPA settle with DuPont

Bryan Cohen Aug. 28, 2014, 1:17pm

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The U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement on Wednesday with E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company to resolve allegations of pollution law violations.

DuPont's Belle, W.Va.-based facility allegedly engaged in eight releases of harmful levels of hazardous substances between May 2006 and January 2010. The releases allegedly posed significant risks to people and the Kanawha River. One DuPont employee died after exposure to the toxic gas phosgene, which was allegedly the result of the company's failure to comply with industry accident prevention procedures.

The Department of Justice and the EPA alleged DuPont violated the Clean Air Act; the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act; and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

“Producing toxic and hazardous substances can be dangerous, and requires complying with environmental and safety laws,” Cynthia Giles, the assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said. “Today's settlement with DuPont will ensure that the proper practices are in place to protect communities and nearby water bodies."

Under the terms of the settlement, DuPont will pay a $1.275 million penalty and take corrective actions to prevent future releases.

“Failing to follow laws meant to prevent accidents can have fatal consequences – as was tragically the case here,” Sam Hirsch, the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, said. “Today’s settlement holds DuPont accountable for its failure to prevent hazardous releases and requires improvements to its risk management operations and emergency response systems that could prevent future tragedies and damage to the environment.”

DuPont estimates it will spend approximately $2.276 million to complete required improvements to its emergency response and safety processes.

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