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DuPont agrees to settle with feds, W.Va. over alleged Clean Air Act violations

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Oct 30, 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) -- This week, the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced that E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, otherwise known as DuPont, has agreed to settle alleged Clean Air Act violations at the company's Washington Works Facility.

In a civil complaint -- filed along with the proposed settlement -- the federal government and the state of West Virginia alleged several violations of "leak detection and repair," or LDAR, safeguards at the DuPont facility, located in Wood County, W.Va.

The violations, which are alleged to have begun in 2007, included failure to monitor pumps, valves, and connectors; failure to calibrate monitoring equipment; failure to identify and report equipment containing hazardous air pollutants, or HAPs; failure to close open-ended lines containing HAPs; and failure to conduct required pressure tests.

The proposed settlement was filed Monday in a federal district court in Charleston, W.Va., by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Under the terms of the proposed consent decree, DuPont has agreed to pay a $800,000 civil penalty and implement several safeguards to limit emissions of HAPs, including volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, such as formaldehyde, methanol and acetal.

According to the EPA, VOCs contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, which is a major component of smog and can cause or aggravate respiratory disease. Ozone also causes damage to forests and crops, fabric and exterior coatings, such as oil and acrylic latex, oil coatings and automotive finishes. Some known or suspected effects of exposure to HAPs include cancer, reproductive health problems, and birth defects.

The enforcement action is part of the agency's national initiative to reduce emissions of HAPs by enforcing LDAR regulations.

The EPA has determined that leaking equipment such as valves, pumps and connectors are the largest source of emissions of hazardous air emissions from chemical manufacturers and petroleum refineries.

A facility that is subject to LDAR requirements must monitor equipment containing HAPs at regular intervals to identify leaks, and leaking components must then be promptly repaired or replaced, according to the federal agency.

In addition to the $800,000 penalty -- which will be divided equally between the federal government and West Virginia -- the consent decree includes injunctive relief requiring DuPont to implement several measures to improve Clean Air Act compliance and reduce emissions of HAPs at the West Virginia plant.

Among other measures, DuPont will commission an independent third-party LDAR applicability audit of the facility; prepare a detailed LDAR manual covering all regulated process units at the facility; implement a LDAR training program; institute a two-year enhanced LDAR program; and conduct quarterly quality assurance and quality control reviews and annual audits of the enhanced LDAR program to review compliance with the consent decree.

The proposed consent decree, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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DuPont U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

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