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Stone Container Corportation Settles Air Pollution Violations at Virginia Pulp and Paper Plant - Company to Pay $835,000 Penalty for Past Violations at Hopewell, Va., Plant

Release Date: 8/5/2004
Contact Information: Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

ALEXANDRIA, VA. – Paul J. McNulty, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and Donald S. Welsh, Regional Administrator for the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Mid-Atlantic region announced that Stone Container Corporation has settled alleged violations of federal and state air pollution control laws at its pulp and paper plant in Hopewell, Virginia.

A consent decree, civil complaint and notice of publication were filed today in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. Stone Container Corporation has agreed to pay a $835,000 penalty to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act and Virginia's Air Pollution Control Law.

The U.S. and Virginia alleged that Stone Container violated several regulations designed to limit emissions of sulfur and sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. The alleged violations included:

      C failing to adequately monitor emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter;
C exceeding regulatory limits on emissions of particulate matter and sulfur;
      C failing to adopt safeguards to minimize sulfur emissions on occasions when the
          facility=s primary incineration equipment was not operation.

Mr. McNulty said, “This case sends a clear message to all manufacturers that the government is committed to enforcing clean air laws.”

“This settlement will have a significant effect on reducing sulfur dioxide emissions and will go a long way to improving public health,” said Donald S. Welsh, regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s mid-Atlantic region.

The U.S. worked closely with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality in investigating and resolving this matter.

In the proposed consent decree, which is subject to a 30-day public comment period and federal court approval, Stone Container has agreed to pay a $835,000 penalty with 60 percent, or $501,000, paid to the U.S. and 40 percent, or $334,000, paid to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Sulfur dioxide contributes to acid rain which destroys lakes, rivers, streams, and crops. Sulfur dioxide and particulate matter may aggravate existing respiratory diseases such as asthma and emphysema. In addition, these pollutants contribute to impaired visibility in large parts of the country.

As part of the settlement, Stone Container neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations. During the protracted settlement discussions following EPA’s issuance of a notice of violation to the plant in September 1997, the company installed equipment and improved operation and maintenance practices to correct the cited violations.

This case is being handled for the United States by Assistant United States Attorney Richard Sponseller.