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Project XL Logo

Merck & Co., Inc.

EPA Press Release

841 Chestnut Building Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107-4431
Phone - 215/566-5120 Fax - 215/566-5102

EPA Environmental News Contact: Ruth Podems
(215) 566-5540
December 15, 1997
PHILADELPHIA -- A new Environmental Protection Agency program is helping pharmaceutical giant, Merck & Co. compete more effectively in the cutting-edge drug market.

EPA's Project XL allows Merck to streamline its environmental permitting process so the company can introduce products more quickly, such as drugs to treat HIV, and more easily change its current product line.

Merck, in turn, has agreed to a 20 percent reduction in air pollution at its Stonewall plant near Elkton, Va. This reduction will improve visibility and reduce acid rain in nearby Shenandoah National Park.

EPA's Project XL, which stands for excellence and leadership, is a national pilot program launched by President Clinton allowing companies to test flexible environmental regulations, on condition that the public benefits from reduced pollution. In exchange for emission reductions, companies are free to change equipment and processes without applying for permit modifications.

Project XL achieves a common sense approach to environmental regulation, making it easier for businesses to compete, thus helping their bottom line, said W. Michael McCabe, EPA's Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator. Merck will be more responsive to quick changes in its markets. At the same time, neighbors will enjoy healthier air and visitors to Shenandoah National Park will have greater visibility. It's a win-win.

Merck's Stonewall plant, which employs 800 people and produces a variety of pharmaceutical products, currently holds 14 separate air pollution permits for emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter (or soot) and volatile
(more) Merck XL -- 12/15
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organic compounds. Under Project XL, Merck will permanently eliminate 300 tons per year of these pollutants by establishing a plant-wide cap on emissions that is 20 percent lower than recent actual air emissions. In addition, the company will convert its coal-burning powerhouse to natural gas, a much cleaner-burning fuel.

The XL project agreement was signed by the EPA, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Rockingham County and Merck.

Five other U.S. companies and a government agency have finalized Project XL pilots -- Intel, a computer chip manufacturer in Chandler, Ariz.; Weyerhauser, a paper mill in Oglethorpe, Ga.; Jack M. Berry, Inc., a citrus company in LaBelle, Fla.; OSi Specialties, a specialty chemical maker in Sistersville, W.Va.; HADCO Corp., a printed circuit board manufacturer in New York and New Hampshire, and the U.S. Department of Defense Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara, Ca.

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