Alert 647: “DuPont to pay $1.1 million for water pollution fines”

Green Delaware Alert 647
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“DuPont to pay $1.1 million for water pollution fines”
West Virginia, unlike Delaware, requires public notice and comment on settlements with polluters
Action by General Assembly and Governor to make Delaware as transparent as WV

DuPont to pay $1.1 million for water pollution fines
By Ken Ward Jr.
Staff writer

http://wvgazette.com/News/200903240245

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — DuPont Co. will pay more than $1.1 million in fines for repeated water pollution violations at its Washington Works plant south of Parkersburg, under a proposed deal with the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The deal covers more than 700 days of water pollution violations at the plant and two related industrial waste dumps, as well as a variety of spills, failure to use pollution controls, and disposal of waste outside of landfill boundaries.

DEP calculated that the violations deserved fines of more than $1.6 million, but the agency is allowing DuPont to cover one-third of that with a $500,000 “supplemental environmental project.”

The six-page consent order does not spell out details of that project, and gives DuPont 30 days from when the settlement is finalized to submit a proposal to agency officials. That means the public won’t know what sort of project DuPont plans until after the end of a 30-day public comment period that started last week.

“It says, ‘Give us a proposal,’ and that’s routinely the way we write these in there,” Zeto said.

Bill Hopkins, the DuPont Washington Works plant manager, signed the consent order on March 12. DEP issued a public notice about it last week.

Under the deal, DuPont will pay four quarterly installments of about $285,000. The money goes into the DEP’s Water Quality Management Fund.
Read more in Wednesday’s Gazette.

Comments:

The Order is here:  http://wvgazette.com/static/watchdog/dupontdepconsentorder.pdf

In West Virginia, not noted as a hotbed of environmental protection, but unlike in Delaware, such deals with polluters are subject to a public notice period:

DEP Public Notice – Proposed Settlement – E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

The WV Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) and E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company have proposed a settlement of an Administrative Consent Order which resolves violation(s) of the WV Water Pollution Control Act. In accordance with the proposed Consent Order, E.I. du Pont de Nemours has agreed to pay administrative penalties and to comply with the Act. Final settlement is subject to comments received during the thirty (30) day period ending April 16, Further information about this Administrative Consent Order is available by contacting the Chief Inspector, WVDEP/Environmental Enforcement, 601 57th Street SE, Charleston, WV 25304, (304) 926-0470.

This is in contrast to Delaware, where settlements are (normally) only announced to the public after-the-fact.  Green Delaware has been calling for legislation to make all such settlements open to public comment before becoming final.  This would avoid the sort of infuriating surprise recently experienced with settlement of thousands of violations by NRG’s Indian River Generating Station (Alert 636: greendel.org/?p=254 ).  Why can’t Delaware be as transparent as West Virginia?

The only real solution is for Governor Markell and the General Assembly to take action in favor of the people by passing a bill requiring prior public notice and comment on settlements.

By the way, evidence of the harmfulness of the Teflon-related chemicals DuPont has dumped in many places, including West Virginia and New Jersey, continues to accumulate.  For example:

“CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Exposure to the toxic chemical C8 appears to be linked to changes in the human immune system, according to the latest findings of a scientific panel studying the chemical.”

http://wvgazette.com/News/200903190596


Alan Muller

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