Dow agrees to pay $2.5M for alleged violations at Midland plant - WNEM TV 5

Dow agrees to pay $2.5M for alleged violations at Midland plant

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday that Dow Chemical Company has agreed to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act at its chemical manufacturing and research complex in Midland, Mich.

"Communities near large industrial facilities depend on EPA to enforce our nation's environmental laws and protect public health and the environment," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "Today's settlement with Dow will reduce the potential for future violations and protect communities from emissions of hazardous air pollutants."

In addition to paying a penalty, Dow agreed to implement a comprehensive program to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants from leaking equipment such as valves and pumps.

From Friday's news release:

These emissions – known as fugitive emissions because they are not discharged from a stack but rather leak directly from equipment – are generally controlled through work practices, such as monitoring for and repairing leaks. The settlement requires Dow to implement enhanced work practices, including more frequent leak monitoring, better repair practices, and innovative new work practices designed to prevent leaks. In addition, the enhanced program requires Dow to replace valves with new "low emissions" valves or valve packing material, designed to significantly reduce the likelihood of future leaks of VOCs and HAPs.

According to the 24-count complaint, filed simultaneously with the settlement today in the Eastern District of Michigan, Dow allegedly violated Clean Air Act requirements for monitoring and repairing leaking equipment, for demonstrating initial and continuous compliance with regulations applicable to chemical, pharmaceutical and pesticide plants, and for failing to comply with reporting and record keeping requirements. The complaint also asserts that Dow violated the Clean Water Act's prohibition against discharging pollutants without a permit and violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act's requirements for hazardous waste generators.

The consent decree is subject to a 30-day comment period and final approval by the court.

More information on the settlement:


Dow Chemical released this statement regarding the alleged violations:

The Dow Chemical Company's Michigan Operations in Midland, Mich., has reached a proposed comprehensive settlement agreement with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The agreement encompasses air, water, and waste issues identified during an inspection that was conducted over a 20-month period between August 2005 and March 2007.

Dow has been working with the US EPA and DOJ since the inspection to review and resolve the issues from the audit. In many cases, the US EPA and Dow agreed that Dow was in compliance, and no corrective action was needed. In other instances, Dow and EPA had interpreted the regulations differently. In cases where Dow was found in noncompliance, Dow made immediate corrections. The general nature of many of the noncompliance allegations involved missed inspections, paperwork incompleteness and procedural issues. The settlement provides for a $2.5 million payment by Dow.

"We are committed to best-in-class performance of our Environmental, Health and Safety practices and have learned some very valuable lessons from this process. We know that every detail of compliance is critical – including the administrative detail," said Earl Shipp, vice president of Michigan Operations. "While there has been no harm to human health or the environment with regard to these findings, we have taken corrective action and implemented measures to prevent recurrence."


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