DuPont Agrees to Pay Penalties, Fix Environmental Violations at Texas Plant

E.I. Du Pont De Nemours and Co. (DuPont) agreed in a consent decree filed in the Southern District of Texas on Thursday to pay $1.71 million to the United States and $1.71 million to the state of Texas to remedy an environmental complaint regarding hazardous waste.

DuPont allegedly violated Texas and national environmental statutes, including the Clean Air Act, at its facility in Harris County, Texas. DuPont used the facility to manufacture agrichemicals until November 2014 when a methyl mercaptan leak caused four deaths. Afterward, the area was shut down and the plant was used to treat wastewater. To comply with the decree, DuPont will need to submit plans to align with the Clean Water Act, the Polyether Polyols Production MACT, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

The decree stated, “by agreeing to entry of this Consent Decree, DuPont does not admit any liability to the United States or the State arising out of the transactions or occurrences alleged in the Complaint.” The decree is meant to avoid litigation; the parties say it is fair and in the best interest of the public. DuPont will also pay additional penalties for violations of specific requirements listed in the decree based on the length of time the environmental laws were not followed.

After DuPont meets the requirements in the decree and pays all penalties, the decree can be terminated after a request from DuPont is approved by the plaintiffs. The consent decree was filed along with a complaint from the United States and Texas, claiming DuPont has not complied with the RCRA and the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act. 

“As a result of Defendant’s failure to comply with federal and state laws and regulations, excess hazardous air pollutants and hazardous wastes have been and are being emitted, discharged or released into the environment from Defendant ’s Facility,” the complaint stated. “These hazardous air pollutants and hazardous wastes, and some of their harmful effects, include: carbamate, which is toxic to fish, aquatic invertebrates, and mammals and highly toxic to insects; methylene chloride, which is a carcinogen; methomyl, which is highly toxic to fish, birds, and mammals; methyl isocyanate, which is toxic to wildlife; and volatile organic compounds, which contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, a major constituent of smog.”

The complaint includes 23 claims for relief and a request that the defendant is ordered to comply with statutory and regulatory requirements and take measures to mitigate the effect of its environmental violations.