A federal district court has ordered Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation to pay the second highest penalty that a judge has awarded to the United States after trial under the Clean Water Act (CWA) since the law was passed in1972. The court ordered Allegheny Ludlum to pay a penalty of $8,244,670 for violations of the CWA at its steel mills on the Allegheny and Kiskimenetas Rivers outside Pittsburgh.
District Court Judge Robert Cindrich penalized Allegheny Ludlum for 1,122 days of violation. Finding that Allegheny Ludlum gained a savings of $4.1 million from its delay and failure in spending money on necessary environmental controls, the court ordered the company to pay a penalty double that amount to reflect the history and seriousness of the violations, and the company's lack of effort to prevent them over a seven year period.
Specifically, Allegheny Ludlum saved money by avoiding the costs of staffing four treatment plants 24 hours per day, delaying modernizing a wastewater treatment plant at its Vandergrift mill for many years while investing its capital to increase production of steel at that mill, and refusing requests from its own engineers to perform a number of capital projects to eliminate or reduce spills of acids and oils.
The court's decision recognizes that the company is presently in compliance, but finds that Allegheny Ludlum's record improved only after many years of state enforcement and filing of the federal lawsuit in 1995.
In 1995, the Justice Department on behalf of EPA filed suit alleging numerous violations by Allegheny Ludlum of its permit limits for toxic metals zinc, chromium, nickel and other metals, as well as chronic spills of oil and grease, into the Kiskimenetas and Allegheny Rivers from its plants at Brackenridge/Natrona, West Leechburg, Bagdad, and Vandergrift, Pennsylvania. The Clean Water Act prohibits companies from discharging toxic and other pollutants into rivers and streams, but companies may obtain a permit that gives permission for them to send pollutants to rivers within specific limits.
The court found that a substantial penalty was warranted by the frequency, magnitude and seriousness of these violations, which included 893 violations of toxic pollutant limits, 180 days when the company exceeded permit limits by at least 1,000 percent, and a "notorious" July 1994 oil spill from the company's West Leechburg mill, which spread 30 miles downstream.
Allegheny Ludlum was also found liable for a large number of spills of chemicals and/or oil into rivers near Pittsburgh. These spills also posed the risk of health hazards because of nearby drinking water intakes, and they had a severe impact on the communities' ability to use boats, swim and otherwise enjoy the rivers.
"The court can only conclude that the violations continued because the defendant did not consider compliance with the [Clean Water] Act a priority," wrote Judge Cindrich.
In 1997, the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia,
ordered Smithfield Foods Inc. and two subsidiaries to pay a civil
penalty of $12 million for violating the CWA on thousands of
occasions. In September 1999, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
for the Fourth Circuit upheld the lower court's ruling.
EPA PROMOTES WATER EFFICIENCY IN THE HOME
EPA is promoting water efficiency in the home by offering on-line information on saving water and reducing utility costs.
Water efficiency is an important part of protecting human health and the environment. Using water efficiently can help improve water quality, protect valuable sources of drinking water, reduce the cost of drinking water and wastewater treatment, maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems and mitigate drought impacts. Water efficiencies in the home can be improved by detecting and fixing leaky faucets, installing high efficiency clothes washers and toilets and watering the lawn and garden with the minimum amount of water needed. Fixing a silent toilet leak may save as much as 500 gallons per day. Installing high efficiency plumbing fixtures and appliances can help a typical family of four reduce indoor water use by one-third, save about $95 per year on its water and sewer bill and cut energy use by as much as six percent. Watering the landscape with an automatic irrigation system may likely be the single largest use of water in the home and can be dramatically improved by using proper irrigation and scheduling techniques such as cycling the sprinklers. Using all of these techniques will also reduce impacts on rivers, lakes and streams.
Water efficiency continues to play an important role not only in
protecting water sources and improving water quality, but also in
reducing the amount of energy used to treat, pump and heat water
-- currently about eight percent of U.S. energy demand. Water
heating accounts for 19 percent of home energy use. If 20 percent
of U.S. homes used high efficiency clothes washers, national
energy savings could be 285 billion BTUs per day - enough to
supply the needs of over one million homes. Additional
information can be found at http://www.h2ouse.net.
NEW COMMUTER CHOICE WEBSITE LAUNCHED
A new website has been launched by EPA and Department of Transportation to support the Commuter Choice Leadership Initiative, which is the agency's first business/government partnership to reduce air pollution and global warming associated with vehicle use. The goal of this initiative is to reduce the traffic and air pollution of 15 million cars.
U.S. employers can make important contributions to improving energy resources, reducing air pollution and improving public health through this voluntary program. The new website provides information on: 1) what employers need to become a Commuter Choice Employer and meet the National Standard of Excellence for commuter benefits; 2) how U.S. employers can save hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes, parking facility expenses and employee turnover costs and 3) how employers can save their employees hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes and transportation costs. The new website has a list of over 200 employers that have committed to meeting the National Standard of Excellence for employer-provided commuter benefits, qualifying them as Commuter Choice Employers.
More information on this initiative is found at
FAA SEEKS $275,000 CIVIL PENALTY AGAINST TULSA FIRM FOR OFFERING UNDECLARED HAZARDOUS MATERIALS FOR SHIPMENT BY AIRCRAFT
The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed to assess a $275,000 civil penalty against Envirosolve, LLC, of Tulsa, Okla., for alleged violation of Department of Transportation hazardous materials regulations.
Envirosolve allegedly placed two containers of waste, specifically, paint-related flammable liquids, in an unmarked fiberboard box on August 21, 2000, for shipment by air from Albuquerque, N.M. to Hannibal, Mo. FAA said that Envirosolve previously offered the same hazardous material for air transportation on August 16 but that FedEx rejected the shipment.
FAA said Envirosolve offered the hazardous materials for transportation when they were not packaged, labeled, marked, classed, described, documented, or in condition for shipment as required by regulations. Envirosolve also failed to ensure employees were trained to properly package and handle hazardous materials, and did not make available at all times the required emergency response information.
The company has 30 days from receipt of the enforcement letter to
respond to the agency.
- March 15, 2002 - Annual report due from facilities conducting treatability studies