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Invista to pay $500 mn in EPA settlement
14
Apr '09
An agreement lodged in federal court here between INVISTA S.à r.l., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Justice and other regulatory authorities resolves violations of environmental requirements dating back to when DuPont owned and operated certain facilities now operated by INVISTA.

INVISTA identified and disclosed more than 680 violations at 12 former DuPont sites in seven states shortly after taking ownership and in the following months as it performed comprehensive environmental audits under the U.S. EPA's audit policy.

INVISTA already has corrected the vast majority of the audit findings settled by the agreement. For approximately 50 remaining findings, the agreement outlines required actions, including installing additional environmental controls at plants in Chattanooga, Tenn.; Seaford, Del.; Camden, S.C.; and Orange and Victoria, Texas.

INVISTA's investment in these corrective actions is estimated to total up to $500 million and result in emissions reductions of nearly 10,000 tons per year.

“This agreement affirms the work we have already done to improve environmental compliance at these plants and enables us, as a new owner, to finish correcting the prior owner's noncompliance,” said David Dotson, INVISTA's senior vice president for operations. “We are pleased to have a clear path forward to closing out these legacy issues.”

Shortly after taking ownership of the facilities from DuPont in 2004, INVISTA discovered significant and widespread environmental noncompliance at certain plants. Faced with these serious issues, INVISTA acted responsibly and moved promptly to identify and disclose violations to regulators and systematically correct them to ensure compliance and protect employees, the public and the environment.

“We discontinued unsafe practices and took noncompliant equipment out of service, spending millions of dollars to fix equipment and ensure employees and the community were protected,” said Dotson.

Under a Corporate Audit Agreement with the U.S. EPA, INVISTA was required to investigate thoroughly the 12 newly-acquired facilities and disclose to the agency all discovered noncompliance. INVISTA used independent auditors to conduct more than 40 audits covering multiple regulatory disciplines.

The remaining DuPont-era noncompliance pertains to significant Clean Air Act programs, and corrective actions include complex remedies and large capital projects. They are subject to mandated deadlines and technical criteria that will be overseen by appropriate state and federal regulatory agencies.

“We worked diligently with EPA and other agencies to ensure safety and compliance at the sites while working to finalize this agreement. We maintain that commitment to safe, environmentally sound operations, now with an added focus on executing our responsibilities under the agreement,” said Dotson.

The U.S. EPA encourages new owners to audit acquired facilities and recently adopted a new, tailored approach for new owners within its corporate audit policy. With this agreement, U.S. EPA assessed a $1.7 million economic benefit penalty. It is designed to offset any potential economic benefit a new owner may realize in potential savings on operations and maintenance from the time of acquisition until the required controls are installed.

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