Tyco to Pay More than $1.1 Million for Clean Air Act Violations

Tyco International (US) Inc. will pay a penalty of more than $1.1 million to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) at its former metal forming and finishing facility located in Hamburg, N.J., the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) and EPA announced on April 19.

In a companion case, the facility's current owner, Shan Industries, agreed to complete a retrofit of equipment used in metal finishing at the facility that is intended to limit emissions of hazardous air pollutants. Under the settlement, Shan also agreed to follow reporting requirements and will pay a $101,000 penalty. Shan acquired the facility from Tyco in January 2000 and completed alterations to the degreasing equipment in July 2006. The settlement requires reporting of monitoring, certifications and repairs to the degreaser on an annual and semiannual basis.

"Effective pollution controls and reporting are essential to protecting human health and the environment from harmful air pollutants," said Matthew J. McKeown, acting assistant attorney general for DOJ's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This penalty should serve to deter future violators from failing to comply with the laws that protect the environment and public health."

The facility is a metal forming and finishing plant that Tyco owned from about 1963 until 2000, when it sold the plant to Shan. The facility uses trichloroethylene (TCE) to degrease and chromium to electroplate metal parts, for items such as writing implements and automotive fuel filters. TCE and chromium are among the most toxic of hazardous air pollutants. Breathing small amounts may cause headaches, lung irritation, dizziness, poor coordination and difficulty concentrating. Breathing large amounts of trichloroethylene may cause impaired heart function, unconsciousness and death. Breathing it for long periods may cause nerve, kidney and liver damage. In complaints filed simultaneously with the settlements, the federal government charged that Tyco and Shan failed to comply with design, testing, operating, monitoring and reporting requirements under the CAAs regulations. Tyco was in violation of the regulations from at least February 1999 until it sold the facility in January 2000.

Under the terms of the federal government's settlement with Tyco, the company will pay the $1,137,000 civil penalty in one lump sum. Shan will pay its penalty over three years based on its limited financial resources. Shan also will provide environmental information to EPA as required by the terms of the settlement.

A copy of the consent decree resolving allegations relating to Shan is available on DOJ's Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

Featured Webinar