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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 4, 2017

Momentive Performance Materials to pay $1.25 million for violating federal and state environmental laws in Waterford, New York

ALBANY, NEW YORK - Momentive Performance Materials Silicones, LLC (“MPM”) has agreed to pay a $1.25 million civil penalty to resolve a complaint alleging violations of federal and state environmental laws in connection with MPM’s use of an incinerator at a manufacturing facility that it owns and operates in Waterford, New York, announced the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York, the Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), the New York State Attorney General’s Office, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”). Both the complaint and the settlement agreement were filed in United States District Court in Albany.

The allegations in the civil complaint, which is docketed as United States of America and the State of New York v. Momentive Performance Materials Silicones, LLC, Civil No 1:17-CV-470, include the following:

MPM purchased a manufacturing facility in Waterford, New York in 2006 from the General Electric Company (GE), and continues to operate it to this day. At the time of the purchase of the facility, a rotary kiln incinerator, which had been operated by GE for more than 25 years, was part of the manufacturing process. MPM manufactures various products at the facility, including sealants made of silicone. The silicone manufacturing process generates hazardous waste. MPM sought and received permits from DEC to dispose of the hazardous waste onsite, subject to compliance with the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). MPM disposed of hazardous waste in the incinerator that included an automatic waste feed cut-off system designed to shut down the incinerator if MPM deviated from operating parameters designed to ensure compliance with the CAA and RCRA. Unbeknownst to federal and state authorities, MPM used a computer program to override the incinerator’s automatic waste feed cut-off system, allowing MPM to continue to burn hazardous waste in the incinerator in violation of its CAA and RCRA permits. On at least 4,213 occasions during the period of December 4, 2006 until December 31, 2008, MPM employees manually overrode the automatic waste feed cut-off system, thereby potentially exposing the public and the environment to harmful hazardous air pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, dioxins, and furans. Though its employees were violating federal and state law, MPM submitted, for the calendar years 2006 and 2007, compliance reports to the United States and the State of New York falsely attesting to compliance with RCRA, the CAA, and permits issued pursuant to those statutes. During its ownership and operation of the facility from the 1940s to 2006, GE committed similar violations, and in 2015 paid a $2.25 million civil penalty to resolve a civil complaint alleging that its employees also improperly overrode the incinerator’s automatic waste feed cut-off system while feeding hazardous waste into it.

MPM disclosed the extent to which its employees were improperly overriding the incinerator’s automatic waste feed cut-off system. Throughout the investigation, MPM also cooperated fully with the United States. In addition, MPM implemented new calibration procedures and modified equipment to address the issue. In light of its disclosure and subsequent cooperation, a civil penalty of $1.25 million was deemed appropriate.

“This settlement emphasizes that companies must adhere to mandated air pollution controls when disposing of hazardous wastes. Improper overrides threaten all of us with unnecessary exposure to harm”, said First Assistant United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith. Jaquith commended EPA, DEC, the NYS Attorney General’s Office, and DOJ’s Environmental Enforcement Section for their contributions to this investigation.

This case was investigated by EPA and DEC, and is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas Spina Jr. and Adam J. Katz, New York State Assistant Attorneys General Maureen F. Leary and James C. Woods, an attorney from the Department of Justice’s Environmental Enforcement Section, and assistant regional counsel from EPA’s office in New York City.

Topic(s): 
Environment
Updated May 5, 2017