Massachusetts Textile Company Fined $480,000 for Violations

Duro Textiles LLC agreed to pay a $480,000 fine to settle a federal case for Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act violations at manufacturing plants in Fall River, Mass.

The case, brought by EPA and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Massachusetts, was settled on Jan. 25 by the filing of a complaint and lodging of a consent decree in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston. Duro also has made operating changes to come into compliance with federal law.

Duro Textiles produces finished specialty textiles such as camouflage and high-performance sports fabrics. Its employees conduct dying, coating and finishing processes on raw bolts of fabric to produce textiles ready for construction of garments and other products. These processes generate large volumes of highly acidic and highly alkaline wastewater and significant quantities of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

"To ensure the best protection of our water and air, it is critical that companies like Duro comply with all environmental regulations," said Robert W. Varney, EPA Region 1 administrator. "We are pleased to see that Duro has taken important steps to comply with the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act."

The complaint alleges that three of Duro's plants repeatedly and over a long period of time violated the legal limits on low and high pH wastewater discharged into the Fall River sewer system and treatment works. The resulting acidic and alkaline wastewater is corrosive and can damage sewer piping and water treatment plant equipment. In addition, Duro failed to routinely inspect potential sources of stormwater contamination (such as outdoor fuel tanks and chemical unloading areas), which left Duro unable to address any emerging water pollution problems.

The complaint alleges that Duro failed to maintain minimum operating temperatures at an incinerator used to control VOC emissions at one of its plants. Operating at below minimum temperatures can reduce an incinerator's ability to destroy the compounds, which can lead to increased emissions. VOCs are a main cause of ground-level ozone, a serious air problem in New England.

"While we are pleased that Duro has continued the tradition of Massachusetts textile operations when so many other companies have shut down or moved abroad, it is critically important that Duro comply with federal air and water pollution laws," said Michael J. Sullivan, U.S. attorney.

In addition to making operational changes at its plants to prevent pollution, Duro has agreed to stipulated penalties should any future pH violations of its wastewater effluents occur.

More information on EPA enforcement in Region 1 can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ne/enforcement/index.html.

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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