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EPA Cites Hercules Inc. for Clean Water Act Violations
Release Date: 1/9/2003
Contact Information: Roy Seneca 215-814-5567
Contact: Roy Seneca 215-814-5567
PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has cited Hercules Inc. for Clean Water Act violations at the company’s Aqualon Division chemical plant in Hopewell, Va. EPA seeks a $33,000 penalty for unlawful discharges of pollutants into nearby waterways and into Hopewell’s municipal wastewater treatment facility.
Under the U. S. Clean Water Act, Virginia works with EPA to establish water quality standards that protect the state’s rivers, lakes, and streams. The Commonwealth then issues permits to pollution sources, setting pollution limits and monitoring requirements to ensure compliance with water quality standards. Virginia also requires industrial users of public wastewater treatment plants to obtain “pretreatment” permits that limit the amount of pollutants that can be discharged to the municipal treatment facilities. The limits are necessary to protect the treatment plants from exceeding their capacity, which could lead to overflows and polluted discharges into waterways.
Hercules reported to EPA that a Jan. 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. Hercules reported that most of the contaminated sprinkler water was collected in an industrial sewer system and sent to the Hopewell’s water treatment plant, 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 excessive levels of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) to the Hopewell treatment plant in January 2002. According to EPA, the BOD discharge interfered with the operation of the Hopewell treatment plant, causing the plant to violate its own BOD discharge limits on Jan. 19, 2002. High levels of oxygen-depleting BOD threaten aquatic life.
Hercules has the right to a hearing to contest the alleged violations and proposed penalty.