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Koppers Industries Inc., Sentenced to Pay $3 Million, Serve Probation

Release Date: 01/08/2003
Contact Information:

Luke C. Hester 202-564-7818/
Teresa Libera 202-564-7873/

(01/08/03) Koppers Industries Inc., of Pittsburgh, Pa., was sentenced on Dec. 13 on two felony violations of the Clean Water Act and one felony violation of the Clean Air Act. Koppers pleaded guilty to the violations in August 2002. Koppers will pay a $2.1 million fine, pay $900,000 in restitution to the Black Warrior-Cahaba Rivers Land Trust, serve three years probation and implement an environmental compliance program at its facilities throughout the United States. The convictions resulted from releases of hazardous air and water pollutants that exceeded permitted limits at the company’s now-closed coke production and coal by-products facility in Dolomite, Ala. Koppers operated a waste-water treatment plant at the Dolomite facility and also had a storm- water discharge point-source permit, which required it to limit the amount of ammonia in its water discharges. The company was also required to submit discharge monitoring reports (DMRs) to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management indicating the level of pollutants contained in its waste water. Koppers had admitted that its employees knowingly discharged wastewater that exceeded the permitted level of ammonia in January 1997; that in March 1997, its employees knowingly submitted a false DMR to the state agency that understated the level of released ammonia; and that it violated the Clean Air Act by allowing sumps in its benzene suppression system to remain open to the air when they were required to be closed. The release of ammonia to surface waters can significantly harm fish and wildlife and exposure to benzene is a known cause of cancer. J. Daniel Bell of Birmingham, Ala., Koppers’ former Environmental Manager, previously pleaded guilty to a CWA felony charge. This case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI and was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Birmingham, EPA’s Regional Criminal Enforcement Counsel and DOJ’s Environmental Crimes Section.