EPA NEWS: Justice Department, EPA And Texas Settle With DuPont And PMNA And Require Action To Address Violations Of Waste, Water And Air Environmental Laws At Orange, Texas Facility

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October 14, 2021

WASHINGTON (Oct. 14, 2021) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Justice, the Eastern District of Texas, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) have announced a settlement with E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and Company, (DuPont), and Performance Materials NA, Inc., (PMNA) will resolve allegations of violations of hazardous waste, water, and environmental laws at the PMNA Sabine River chemical production facility in Orange, Texas. DuPont will conduct compliance audits, reduce benzene emissions and provide other injunctive relief as part of the settlement agreement. The State of Texas will also pay $3.1 million in civil penalties and attorney’s fees. These measures will help communities near the facility that are already suffering from pollution. They will reduce uncontrolled air pollutants and allow for unpermitted discharges from its surface impoundments.

In a joint complaint filed on October 13, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the State of Texas, asserted claims against DuPont and PMNA for alleged violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Clean Air Act (CAA), Section 7. 002 of the Texas Water Code, Tex. Water Code SS 7. 002, and applicable regulations, at the former DuPont facility now owned and operated by PMNA. The alleged RCRA violations are failure to make hazardous waste determinations and treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous materials without a RCRA permit. They also include failure to comply with land disposal restrictions. CWA violations are unpermitted discharges from process wastewater that violate Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits. CAA violations are alleged for failure to adhere to the national emission standards for hazardous pollutants for benzene-waste operations and miscellaneous organic chemicals manufacturing for certain waste streams.

“This settlement ensures proper management of hazardous wastes, requires a comprehensive review of the facility’s environmental compliance across all media, and ensures cleanup of contamination from past operations,” said Acting Assistant Administrator Larry Starfield of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This case not only benefits the environment but demonstrates our commitment to advancing justice and equity to communities across Texas.”

“The petrochemical industry must operate in compliance with environmental laws,”said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We will continue to hold operators accountable to address pollution from industrial operations that violate the law, such as those at the Sabine River facility, and to enhance public health and the environment, particularly in surrounding communities overburdened by industrial pollution.”

“The Eastern District of Texas is a proud home to numerous natural resources including lakes, rivers, and streams, which span the district,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei for the Eastern District of Texas. We are also home to many of the most prominent names in industry. These two groups co-exist peacefully. However, when industry violates applicable laws and harms the environment, the Eastern District of Texas is committed to taking steps to hold that actor accountable and require better compliance in the future.”

“TCEQ is committed to protecting human health and the environment consistent with sustainable economic development,” said Executive Director Toby Baker for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). “This settlement is a representation of that commitment.”

Under the settlement, an independent third party will conduct multimedia compliance audits to review the facility’s compliance with RCRA, the CWA and the CAA, as well as related state laws and regulations. The defendants will also take measures to control benzene emissions from wastewaters and the pH level. To determine the extent and source of contamination in certain surface impoundments, they will also conduct soil, sediment, or groundwater sampling. This sampling will be done in accordance with the Texas Risk Reduction Program.

For more information on this settlement: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/dupont-sabine-settlement

The consent decree was lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on October 13, 2021, and is subject to publication in the Federal Register and an opportunity for public comment.

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