Hopewell company agrees to $175,000 penalty over pollution

Hopewell company agrees to $175,000 penalty over pollution

Source: Richmond Time-Dispatch, July 31, 2012
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Hercules Inc. has agreed to pay a $175,000 penalty and add $200,000 in pollution controls to settle alleged air-pollution violations at its Hopewell chemical plant, federal officials said today.

According to the officials, the plant at 1111 Hercules Road had inadequate controls in place for limiting emissions of chemical pollutants and also had an inadequate system for detecting pollution leaks.

The main chemical at issue was methanol, which can cause blurred vision, dizziness and other problems.

The EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice announced the settlement this afternoon.

Under a consent decree lodged with the U.S. District Court in Richmond, Hercules is required to make improvements to correct the problems, the officials said.

“Hercules will spend approximately $200,000 on the consent decree requirements, resulting in an estimated 150 tons of hazardous air pollutants reduced per year,” the EPA and justice department said in a news release.

Gary L. Rhodes, a spokesman for Covington, Ky.-based Ashland Inc., said, “We take environmental matters very seriously and are committed to ensuring that all of our facilities comply with applicable regulations.”

He added, “As part of this settlement, Hercules has agreed to conduct additional testing and work to enhance our leak detection and repair program.”

Hercules is a subsidiary of Ashland, a specialty chemical company. The Hopewell plant employs about 230 people, Rhodes said.

The proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.

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