- The Washington Times - Friday, July 29, 2011

The Dow Chemical Company will pay $2.5 million to settle violations of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conversation and Recovery Act at its chemical manufacturing and research complex in Midland, Mich., the Justice Department said Friday.

The company, in addition to paying the civil penalty, will implement a comprehensive program to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants from leaking equipment, such as valves and pumps, in what are known as “fugitive” emissions because they are not discharged from a stack but rather leak directly from equipment.

The settlement also requires Dow to implement enhanced work practices, including more frequent leak monitoring, better repair practices, and innovative new work practices designed to prevent leaks, and to replace valves with new “low emissions” ones or valve packing material, designed to significantly reduce the likelihood of future leaks.

“This compliance program should serve as a model for industry and will go a long way to assure future violations will not happen again at this facility,” said Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno, who heads the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Dow worked cooperatively with the government to resolve this matter and in doing so set an example for responsible compliance with our nation’s environmental laws.”

Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said communities near large industrial facilities depend on EPA to enforce the nation’s environmental laws and protect public health and the environment.

“Today’s settlement with Dow will reduce the potential for future violations and protect communities from emissions of hazardous air pollutants,” she said.

A 24-page complaint in the case cited Dow for violating Clean Air Act requirements for monitoring and repairing leaking equipment and for failing to comply with reporting and recordkeeping requirements. The complaint also said Dow violated the Clean Water Act’s prohibition against discharging pollutants without a permit and 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.