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Judge Rules for EPA in Clean Air Case Against Danbury Company, Orders $280,000 Fine

Release Date: 08/21/2002
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that a federal environmental administrative law judge has ruled for EPA in a clean air enforcement case against the Barden Corporation, a ball-bearing manufacturer in Danbury, Conn. After a two-day hearing, Chief Administrative Law Judge Susan L. Biro ruled for EPA on eight of nine counts of EPA's complaint and ordered the company to pay a penalty of $281,000. EPA had sought a penalty of $289,000 for all nine counts.

"Most of our enforcement actions are resolved through negotiations, without going to a formal hearing," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "But if we have to, we will go forward with a hearing, and do what it takes to ensure that companies are meeting their environmental responsibilities. We're pleased that the judge upheld our complaint in the Barden case and validated the hard work of our inspectors and case team."

The case stems from an EPA inspection in1999. According to the EPA complaint filed after the inspection, Barden violated Clean Air Act standards for trichloroethylene (TCE) emissions. TCE is a solvent used in six degreasers at Barden's facility. The violations involving these degreasers included: failure to post operating requirements near the machines, failure to comply with degreaser hoist rates, failure to submit notification & exceedance reports, failure to maintain operating records, failure to perform emission calculations, and failure to comply with emission limits. Significantly, in 1998 one of the degreasers emitted over 10 tons of TCE above the allowable limit on an annual basis.

Even when inhaled for short periods of time, TCE can cause headaches, lung irritation, dizziness, poor coordination and difficulty concentrating.

Barden came into compliance after the inspection, but negotiations between EPA and Barden to settle the complaint were unsuccessful. The case was then heard by Chief Judge Susan L. Biro, who took testimony and arguments from both sides, and issued a binding decision.

The case was the first complaint in the country to go to a hearing over violations of halogenated solvent air emissions regulations.