WASHINGTON – The Dow Chemical Company has agreed to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act at its chemical manufacturing and research complex in Midland, Michigan, the Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today.
In addition to paying a penalty, Dow will implement a comprehensive program to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from leaking equipment such as valves and pumps. These emissions – known as “fugitive” emissions because they are not discharged from a stack but rather leak directly from equipment - are generally controlled through work practices, such as monitoring for and repairing leaks. The settlement requires Dow to implement enhanced work practices, including more frequent leak monitoring, better repair practices, and innovative new work practices designed to prevent leaks. In addition, the enhanced program requires Dow to replace valves with new “low emissions” valves or valve packing material, designed to significantly reduce the likelihood of future leaks of VOCs and HAPs.
“This compliance program should serve as a model for industry and will go a long way to assure future violations will not happen again at this facility,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice. “Dow worked cooperatively with the government to resolve this matter and in doing so set an example for responsible compliance with our nation’s environmental laws.”
“Communities near large industrial facilities depend on EPA to enforce our nation’s environmental laws and protect public health and the environment,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s settlement with Dow will reduce the potential for future violations and protect communities from emissions of hazardous air pollutants.”
According to the 24-count complaint, filed simultaneously with the settlement today in the Eastern District of Michigan, Dow allegedly violated Clean Air Act requirements for monitoring and repairing leaking equipment, for demonstrating initial and continuous compliance with regulations applicable to chemical, pharmaceutical, and pesticide plants, and for failing to comply with reporting and recordkeeping requirements. The complaint also asserts that Dow violated the Clean Water Act’s prohibition against discharging pollutants without a permit and violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act’s requirements for hazardous waste generators.
The consent decree is subject to a 30 day comment period and final approval by the court. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice web site at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html
More information on the settlement: www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/mm/dowchemical.html