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Hopewell, Va., Company to Pay $175,000 Penalty to Settle Clean Air Act Violations at Manufacturing Facility

Release Date: 07/31/2012
Contact Information: Contact for EPA: Donna Heron 215-814-5113 / & DOJ: Wyn Hornbuckle 202-616-0903 /

PHILADELPHIA (July 31, 2012) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice today announced that Hercules Incorporated has agreed to pay a $175,000 penalty to settle alleged violations of federal environmental laws in the processing of cellulose fiber at its Hopewell, Va., plant.

According to the United States' complaint, Hercules allegedly failed to adequately demonstrate compliance with the national emission standard for hazardous air pollutants for cellulose products manufacturing and violated related regulations on leak detection and repair.

Cellulose fiber is the main raw material used in the manufacturing processes conducted at the facility, located at 1111 Hercules Road. The cellulose is treated with various chemicals, and gaseous and particulate by-products are vented and treated by air pollution control devices. However, leakage of hazardous air pollutants into the environment can occur at different points along the manufacturing process, for example, at valves and vents.

Under a consent decree that was lodged with the U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va. on July 2, 2012, Hercules is required to comply with the Clean Air Act standard of "maximum achievable control technology" (MACT) . This standard protects public health and improves air quality by requiring facilities to use state-of-the-art technology for reducing hazardous air pollutants. Hercules will spend approximately $200,000 on the consent decree requirements, resulting in an estimated 150 tons of hazardous air pollutants reduced per year. As part of the settlement, Hercules has agreed to conduct additional testing, update its operating permit to document testing and monitoring activities, and engage in a two-year enhanced leak detection and repair program. The proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.

This agreement is part of an EPA national initiative to target and reduce illegal emissions of air toxics and reduce excess emissions for facilities that have a significant impact on air quality and health in residential areas. Industrial and commercial facilities are required to implement leak detection and repair programs to prevent the escape of hazardous air pollutants.

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