WASHINGTON, D.C. – Elkem Metals Company L.P, its two partners—Ferro Invest III Inc. and Ferro Invest II LLC—and Eramet Marietta Inc. have agreed to pay $3.25 million to settle allegations that the companies injured natural resources and violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) as a result of wastewater discharges from a Marietta, Ohio, facility the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior (DOI), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today.
As a result of the settlement, the companies will pay a combined total of $2,040,000 towards restoration of injured natural resources in the Ohio River, including the restoration of native freshwater mussels, fish, and gastropods (snails). They will also pay a total of $460,000 as reimbursement to DOI and the states of West Virginia and Ohio—also parties to the settlement—for past assessment costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). In addition, Elkem will pay a penalty of $225,000 and Eramet will pay a penalty of $525,000 for alleged CWA violations.
“Today’s settlement was made possible because of the cooperative efforts of federal and state governments and private industry,” said Assistant Attorney General Sue Ellen Wooldridge of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We are confident that this agreement will help to substantially improve the environment and restore valuable natural resources for the people of the Ohio River Valley.”
Today’s settlement resolves claims under CERCLA that in 1999, the alleged release of hazardous substances at the Marietta facility caused injuries to natural resources, including injury to local river life, such as fish and mussels. It is also alleged that the Marietta, Ohio facility was responsible for unauthorized wastewater discharges into the Ohio River in violation of a CWA discharge permit.
“Federal and state agencies worked closely together to reach a settlement with Elkem and Eramet that will significantly benefit the Ohio River and those who fish in it,” said EPA Regional Administrator Tom Skinner.
“This settlement enables the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and our co-trustees in Ohio and West Virginia to work together to restore and enhance resources in a stretch of the Ohio River that saw substantial losses to native species,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Robyn Thorson. “Cooperation among all the parties to reach this settlement has given us the mechanism to continue to restore a national treasure—the fish, freshwater mussels, and aquatic life of the Ohio River.”
From at least 1994 up to June 30, 1999, Elkem Metals Company L.P. owned and operated a ferroalloy manufacturing facility in Marietta, Ohio. From June 30, 1999 through the present, Eramet Marietta, Inc. has owned and operated the Marietta facility. The facility produces, among other things, ferroalloy products, including electrolytic chromium and aluminum hardeners used by the aluminum industry. As a result of its manufacturing process, the Marietta facility discharges treated wastewater into the Ohio River. Since at least 1996, the wastewater discharges from the facility have been subject to limitations and other conditions in a CWA discharge permit issued by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Since at least 1997, it is alleged that on various occasions, first Elkem Metals and then Eramet discharged wastewater to the Ohio River that contained pollutants in excess of the limitations set forth in the facility’s CWA NPDES permit or that was otherwise not in compliance with the terms of the permit.
As part of today’s settlement, the natural resource trustees—the Fish and Wildlife Service and the states of West Virginia and Ohio—will develop a restoration plan, with input from the public, to restore the mussels, fish, and snails.
Today’s settlement will be the subject of a 30-day public comment period beginning with publication of the Federal Register notice for the settlement.
During the public comment period, the consent decree may also be examined on the Department of Justice website at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/open.html.