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Hercules Inc. settles Clean Water Act violations at Hopewell plant
Release Date: 9/10/2003
Contact Information: Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567
Contact: Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567
PHILADELPHIA – Hercules Inc. has settled a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency complaint alleging Clean Water Act violations at the company’s Aqualon Division chemical plant in Hopewell, Va.
Under the agreement, the company will pay a $12,500 penalty to settle allegations that it unlawfully discharged pollutants into nearby waterways and to Hopewell’s municipal wastewater treatment facility.
Under Clean Water Act, states work with EPA to establish water quality standards that protect rivers, lakes, and streams. The state then issues permits to pollution sources, setting pollution limits and monitoring requirements to ensure compliance with these water quality standards. The law also requires industrial users of public wastewater treatment plants to obtain “pretreatment” permits limiting pollution discharges to the publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). These limits are designed to avoid overwhelming POTWs’ treatment capacity.
Hercules reported to EPA that a January 17, 2002 equipment malfunction at the Hopewell plant caused the discharge of vapor containing an estimated 1,250 lbs. of ether, 875 lbs. of ethanol, and 125 lbs. of chloroethane. A portion of this vapor discharge was washed down with firewater sprinklers. Most of the contaminated sprinkler water was collected in an industrial sewer system and sent to the city of Hopewell POTW for treatment, Hercules reported, but some was discharged into the West Bear Creek, in violation of the plant’s Clean Water Act permit.
EPA also cited Hercules for violating its pretreatment permit by discharging high levels of biochemical oxygen demand, or BOD, to the City of Hopewell POTW in January 2002. According to EPA, Hercules BOD discharge, together with the BOD discharge of other industrial users, interfered with the operation of the Hopewell POTW, causing the wastewater treatment plant to violate its own BOD discharge limits on the week of January 19, 2002. High levels of oxygen-depleting BOD threaten aquatic life.
As part of the settlement, Hercules neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations. #