DuPont Pays $59,000 Penalty for Mercury Discharges at Polymer Plant

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently settled with E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company for the discharge of pollutants in violation of the Clean Water Act at its polymer fiber manufacturing facility in Kinston, N.C. Under the terms of the consent agreement and final order, DuPont paid a civil penalty of $59,000.

According to EPA, the company discharged levels of mercury in excess of the total mercury limitation established in its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued by the state of North Carolina during 8 months between September 2008 and March 2009.

“NPDES permits are an integral part of the nation’s system to protect rivers and lakes from pollution, and mercury is a dangerous pollutant, especially for children and pregnant women,” said Stan Meiburg, EPA Region 4 acting regional administrator. "Companies must comply with the conditions of their discharge permits."

EPA issued an administrative order in April 2009 requiring the company to submit a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) to prevent violations of the total mercury limitation and complete all scheduled activities in the CAP. The agency said DuPont has complied with the enforcement order.

Congress enacted the CWA in 1972 to protect the nation’s rivers, lakes, and streams, as well as some of the more fragile and vital wetland habitats. The entities cited violated the CWA by either failing to meet the requirements of their NPDES permits, and subsequently causing point source discharges; failing to comply with biosolids requirements; or by filling or dredging wetlands. Pollutants of concern include nutrients, sediment, oil, grease, chemicals, and metals. When left uncontrolled, water pollution can deplete needed oxygen and/or otherwise result in the destruction of aquatic habitats, as well as the fish and wildlife that depend on them. Water pollution also can contaminate food, drinking water supplies, and recreational waterways, and thereby pose a threat to public health.

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