US Dow pays $2.5m to settle federal allegations of plant leaks

29 July 2011 19:04  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--Dow Chemical Company has agreed to pay $2.5m (€1.75m) and improve maintenance procedures at its Midland, Michigan, production complex to settle allegations of environmental violations, the US Justice Department said on Friday.

The Justice Department said that as part of the settlement, Dow has agreed to implement a comprehensive programme to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other hazardous air pollutants from leaking equipment such as valves and pumps.

According to allegations raised by the department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dow failed to meet Clean Air Act (CAA) requirements for monitoring and repairing leaky equipment, resulting in “fugitive emissions” of pollutants.

Such emissions are called fugitive because they are not discharged from a stack but rather leak from various parts of production and process equipment.

The settlement requires Dow to implement enhanced work practices, including more frequent leak monitoring, better repairs and new work practices aimed at preventing leaks. The company also agreed to install new low-emissions valves and better packing materials.

“Dow worked cooperatively with the government to resolve this matter and in doing so set an example for responsible compliance,” said assistant attorney general Ignacia Moreno.

He said the Dow compliance programme resulting from the settlement “should serve as a model for industry”.

A Dow spokesman said that the issues underlying the settlement agreement resulted from inspections over a 20-month period at its Midland research and production complex in 2005-2007.

“In many cases, EPA and Dow agreed that Dow was in compliance and no corrective action was needed,” the company said.  “In other instances, Dow and EPA had interpreted the regulations differently."

“In cases where Dow was found in noncompliance, Dow made immediate corrections,” the spokesman said.

“While there has been no harm to human health or the environment with regard to these findings,” the company added, “we have taken corrective action and implemented measures to prevent recurrence.”

($1 = €0.70)

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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