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Region 3 News Release
News Release
  • For Immediate Release: July 21, 1999
  • U.S. Settles Complaint Against Bassett Furniture Industries, Inc. For Clean Air Act Violations at Virginia Plants - Company to Pay $575,000 Penalty and Complete $1.6 Million in Environmental Projects
    BASSETT, Va. -- Bassett Furniture Industries, Inc. has agreed to pay a $575,000 penalty and spend $1.6 million on two internal pollution prevention projects to settle alleged Clean Air Act violations at two plants in Bassett, Va., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department announced today.
    In a complaint filed today in federal court in Danville,Va., the U.S. alleged that two boilers at the Bassett Table plant and two boilers at the J.D. Bassett Manufacturing plant violated federally enforceable Virginia limits on particulate pollution. The Clean Air Act and Virginia law regulate emission of particulate matter -- which may include dust, soot, and various small solid and liquid by-products of fuel combustion. Inhalation of these microscopic particles can cause lung damage and cardio-pulmonary stress, as well as aggravate asthma symptoms and other respiratory disorders.

    All four boilers allegedly exceeded Virginia’s allowable particulate emission rates. The boilers at the Bassett Table plant also allegedly violated limits on visible emissions. After EPA issued violation notices to Bassett in 1997, the company permanently shut down one of the boilers at the J.D. Bassett plant, and performed extensive renovations on the remaining three boilers. Recent test results show that these boilers now comply with particulate and visible emission limits.

    AThis settlement is a good deal for the parties and, more importantly, for Virginia citizens and their environment. The consent decree deals fairly with past violations, contains safeguards to ensure continuing compliance, and reduces particulate pollution above and beyond the law’s requirements,@ said Regional Administrator W. Michael McCabe.

    In a proposed consent decree, also filed today, the furniture maker commits to implementing an EPA-approved Aenvironmental management plan@ to prevent future non-compliance. The plan will include smokestack testing, emission monitoring, environmental training for company managers, regular auditing at all Bassett facilities for compliance with all environmental requirements, and a one-time audit of compliance with air pollution requirements at all Bassett facilities in Virginia.

    In addition to the $575,000 penalty, the company has also agreed to spend $1.6 million on two supplemental environmental projects which are not otherwise required by Virginia or federal law. Bassett will install and operate 14 baghouse filters at four furniture plants in Bassett, Va. This project could potentially reduce particulate emissions from its woodworking operations by up to 352 tons annually.The new system will also operate more efficiently. The company will also conduct a $30,000 evaluation of pollution prevention options at these four plants.

    The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.