FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 26, 1998
TDD (202) 514-1888
ZENECA AGREES TO PAY CIVIL PENALTY, CEASE DEEP WELL INJECTION
Company Agrees to Spend Millions on Fines and Clean-up Work
to Resolve Environmental Violations
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Zeneca, a manufacturer of specialty chemicals, has agreed to pay $3.5 million in civil penalties for violations of the Nation's environmental laws at its chemical manufacturing facilities located in Mount Pleasant, Tennessee, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today. Under the settlement, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Tennessee, Zeneca will pay $3.5 million in civil penalties, spend more than $15 million to construct new wastewater treatment facilities, and likely spend millions of dollars to clean up contamination from nine waste sites at its Mount Pleasant manufacturing facility. Zeneca also has agreed to cease its injection of contaminated wastewater into an underground aquifer by May 1999, and will immediately reduce its injection of pollutants in the interim. "With this settlement, the citizens of Tennessee will have a cleaner, healthier environment," said Lois J. Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Environmental and Natural Resources Division. "Strong environmental enforcement is essential to protect public health and ensure a clean environment for all Americans." John H. Hankinson, Jr., EPA Regional Administrator in Atlanta said, "This settlement demonstrates the Agency's commitment to ensure compliance with our nation's environmental laws. We will continue to vigorously use enforcement along with other cooperative approaches that benefit the environment." According to the lawsuit, the United States alleged that Zeneca violated the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act, by:
- Injecting 40 million gallons of contaminated wastewater annually into deep wells. Zeneca's injected wastewater contained contaminants in excess of drinking water standards. The complaint alleges that Zeneca disposed of hazardous waste by deep well injection on several occasions.
- Operating a thermal treatment device without the requisite hazardous waste permit.
- Failing to undertake an extensive program of detection and repair of benzene leaks, as required by the Clean Air Act.
- Discharging leachate into a nearby creek and surrounding area from large amounts of mining and manufacturing wastes generated by the former owners of the facility between 1957 and 1978.
Zeneca has committed itself to improving pollution controls to avoid future violations of environmental laws. The company will spend $2.5 million on two supplemental environmental projects at its Mount Pleasant facility. First, Zeneca will reduce or abolish several wastewater streams, eliminating an estimated 15 million pounds per year of wastewater, including 16,000 pounds per year of organic pollutants. Second, it will reduce air emissions of carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxides by a total of several million pounds. Zeneca will also reduce liquid waste streams of sulfate and hydrochloric acid solutions by some 3.5 million pounds per year. In addition, Zeneca will work closely with the State of Tennessee to clean up nine waste disposal sites at the facility, preventing discharges into nearby Big Bigby Creek. Zeneca makes a wide variety of specialty chemicals at its Mount Pleasant facility. These chemicals are used as intermediates in other materials, such as stabilizers for paints and adhesives, and non-chlorine biocides for swimming pools and cosmetics. Zeneca is located approximately two miles southwest of the City of Mount Pleasant, Tennessee. The company's capital stock is wholly owned by Zeneca Holding Inc., which is a subsidiary of Zeneca Group PLC, London, England. The agreement will now be put out for a 30-day public comment period.