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EPA Cites Bacardi for Clean Water Act Violations; Company Could Face Up to $137,500 in Fines for Violations

Release Date: 05/14/2001
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(#01053) San Juan, Puerto Rico – The Bacardi Corporation was recently cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for violating the federal Clean Water Act and could face up to $137,500 in fines. EPA has alleged that the company illegally discharged certain wastes, exceeded effluent limits and failed to obtain permit coverage for its stormwater discharges.

Barcardi was cited for failing to seek permit coverage for its stormwater discharge in a timely manner. The facility was without permit coverage from December 1998 to December 2000. As local studies and reports show, stormwater runoff is a major contributor to water pollution in Puerto Rico.

"It is particularly imperative that Bacardi control stormwater runoff, because ultimately, the discharges end up in the San Juan Bay. The Bay is an environmentally and economically important estuary that EPA, the Puerto Rico government, the city and local stakeholders are working very hard to clean up," said William J. Muszynski, Acting EPA Regional Administrator.

According to the complaint issued to the company by EPA, Barcardi also discharged about 3,000 gallons of mostos, an industrial waste from its rum processing plant, into the Old Bayamon River Channel. Bacardi’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit does not authorize such discharges. In addition, the company’s own monitoring reports showed that its treated wastewater discharge exceeded permit limits for oxygen demand and sometimes solids in March and April 1997, September and October 1999, and February, March, May, June, July and October 2000. Oxygen demand limits are set to ensure that wastewater does not cause a deficit of oxygen in the receiving water, which is needed for marine life. The company is currently working under an Administrative Compliance Order, issued prior to the recent complaint, which seeks compliance with the Clean Water Act and the permit.

The Clean Water Act requires permits for any wastewater discharged into a waterway of the United States. These permits limit allowable levels of pollution in a company’s wastewater discharge and require it to control pollution levels, monitor and provide information to EPA about the discharge and maintain records. In addition, under the Clean Water Act, certain companies must obtain permit coverage for its stormwater discharges, which requires them to develop and implement pollution prevention plans to minimize runoff of polluted storm water and to monitor their storm water discharges.

For more information about NPDES permitting requirements, go to EPA’s website at http://www.epa.gov/owm/npdes.htm.  

EPA is helping facilities comply with the stormwater regulations. Since 1991 on a yearly basis, the Agency has sponsored stormwater seminars in Puerto Rico and has provided compliance assistance to hundreds of regulated facilities. For information about future seminars in Puerto Rico, contact EPA’s Caribbean Environmental Protection Division at (787) 729-6951.