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U.S. and W.Va. Settle Case Against DuPont over Clean Air Act Violations at Washington Works Facility

Release Date: 10/28/2013
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543; smith.bonnie@epa.gov

PHILADELPHIA (October 28, 2013) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) has agreed to settle alleged Clean Air Act violations at DuPont’s Washington Works Facility, located in Washington, Wood County, West Virginia.

A proposed settlement, involving DuPont, the United States, and the State of West Virginia, was filed today in federal district court in Charleston, West Virginia by the U.S. Department of Justice. Under the terms of the proposed consent decree, DuPont has agreed to pay a $800,000 civil penalty, and implement several safeguards to limit emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde, methanol and acetal. VOCs contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, which is a major component of smog and can cause or aggravate respiratory disease. Ozone also causes damage to forests and crops, fabric and exterior coatings such as oil and acrylic latex, oil coatings and automotive finishes. Some known or suspected effects of exposure to HAPs include cancer, reproductive health problems, and birth defects.

This enforcement action is part of EPA’s national initiative to reduce emissions of HAPs by enforcing compliance with the Clean Air Act’s “leak detection and repair” (LDAR) regulations. EPA has determined that leaking equipment such as valves, pumps and connectors are the largest source of emissions of hazardous air emissions from chemical manufacturers and petroleum refineries. A facility that is subject to LDAR requirements must monitor equipment containing HAPs at regular intervals to identify leaks, and leaking components must then be promptly repaired or replaced.

In a civil complaint, filed with the proposed settlement, the United States, on behalf of EPA, and West Virginia alleged several violations of LDAR safeguards at DuPont’s Washington Works facility. The violations, which are alleged to have begun in 2007 included failure to monitor pumps, valves, and connectors; failure to calibrate monitoring equipment; failure to identify and report equipment containing HAPs; failure to close open-ended lines containing HAPs; and, failure to conduct required pressure tests.

In addition to the $800,000 penalty, to be divided equally between the United States and West Virginia, the consent decree includes injunctive relief requiring DuPont to implement several measures to improve Clean Air Act compliance and reduce emissions of HAPs at the Washington Works plant. Among other measures, DuPont will commission an independent third-party LDAR applicability audit of the facility; prepare a detailed LDAR manual covering all regulated process units at the facility; implement a LDAR training program; institute a two-year enhanced LDAR program; and conduct quarterly quality assurance and quality control reviews and annual audits of the enhanced LDAR program to review compliance with the consent decree.

The proposed consent decree, which has been filed in the Southern District of West Virginia, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.