3M To Pay $1.5 Million Penalty For TSCA Violations
3M Co. reached a $1.5 million settlement to resolve reporting violations under the Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA) that the company voluntarily disclosed to EPA. EPA filed the settlement with the agency's Environmental Appeals Board on April 25, for their review.
3M voluntarily disclosed all of the violations covered by this settlement under the terms of a TSCA corporate-wide audit agreement. Under the terms of the settlement, 3M neither admitted nor denied that it had violated TSCA and EPA made no substantive determination in all but 10 instances.
3M had previously agreed and subsequently performed a comprehensive management systems review of 28 separate business units and facilities and to determine the compliance status of all TSCA-regulated chemicals and processes. 3M agreed to pay a $1,521,481 penalty for 244 separate counts under TSCA. As a result of the audit, 3M has corrected a number of violations, including failures to notify EPA on new chemicals, late reporting on substantial risk information, and other reporting violations. During the course of the audit, 3M produced valuable, previously unreported information that will help the scientific community to better understand the presence of toxic substances in the environment, agency officials said.
"EPA takes violations of toxic substances laws seriously and is committed to enforcing those laws," said Granta Y. Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "We are hopeful that today's action will serve as a reminder of the importance of timely industry reporting of substantial risk information to EPA."
Several of the violations concerned reporting on perfluorinated compounds, including perfluorooctyl sulfonates (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFOS-related compounds were the active ingredients used for decades in the original formulation of 3M's Scotchgard stain and water repellents. 3M voluntarily stopped manufacturing PFOS in the United States in 2000, and phased out all of these chemistries on a global basis by the end of 2002. Data submitted by 3M and others led EPA to begin an investigation of these compounds in 2000.
EPA followed up the phase out of PFOS by taking action to implement significant new use rules to restrict the return of PFOS-related chemicals to the U.S. market.
Earlier this year, the agency launched a global PFOA stewardship program. The eight major companies that use or manufacture PFOA have committed to reduce facility emissions and product content of PFOA and related chemicals by 95 percent by no later than 2010, and to work toward eliminating emissions and product content by 2015. Additional information on this program, and on all the agency's activities with regard to PFOA and related chemicals, can be found at http://www.epa.gov/oppt/pfoa.
More information on the settlement can be accessed at http://epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/tsca/3m.html.
This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.