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Release Date: 03/06/1996
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BOSTON -- United States Attorney Donald K. Stern and EPA Regional Administrator John DeVillars announced today that Avon Tape, Inc. has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $180,000 for alleged past violations of the Clean Air Act at its Avon, Massachusetts paper and fabric coating facility.

The Settlement Agreement, filed in court today, resolves claim against Avon Tape for violating emission limits for Volatile Organic Compounds ("VOCs") and for constructing and operating new coating lines without first obtaining the required plan approvals from the State Department of Environmental Protection. The requirements alleged to have been violated by Avon Tape are part of the federally enforceable Massachusetts State Implementation Plan for controlling ozone pollution.

Ground level ozone, or smog, is formed when industrial or auto emissions (such as Volatile Organic Compounds) mix in the atmosphere with sunlight, creating a chemical reaction. Ozone is a respiratory irritant which causes health problems by damaging lung tissue and reducing lung function.

Avon Tape, Inc. was determined to be violating these requirements as a result of a State Department of Environmental Protection inspection in 1992. The case was developed in cooperation with the State and was brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The company reported compliance with the emission limits by January 1994, and obtained the required plan approvals as of February 1995. United States Attorney Stern noted that the company had cooperated with state and federal authorities in coming into compliance following the state inspection. But he added, "Penalties were sought because of the company's non- compliance before the inspection. It is the responsibility of companies to ensure that they are in continuous compliance, not just after violations are discovered by inspections. This office will continue to seek penalties when violations of environmental statutes are uncovered."

EPA Regional Administrator John DeVillars noted that ensuring compliance takes an ongoing effort. "Federal and state programs are available to assist businesses with compliance problems - small companies in particular - but businesses must take the ultimate responsibility for their own compliance including by seeking such assistance before inspections are scheduled." DeVillars added that the company was to be commended for ultimately complying by using pollution prevention techniques, switching from using VOC-based coatings to water-based coatings.

The Settlement Agreement was filed in the federal district court along with a civil complaint, and will become final when and if approved by the United States District Judge. The case was developed by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffery Fowley and by Thomas Olivier of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.