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Companies settle alleged environmental violations at Hercules Franklin Plant in Courtland, Va.

Release date: 10/06/2011
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543

The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have reached a settlement with Hercules Inc. and GEO Specialty Chemicals, Inc. who have agreed to pay a $700,000 penalty for alleged violations of several federal environmental laws. In an earlier January 2011 settlement, Eastman Specialty Chemicals, Inc., which owned and operated a portion of the facility, agreed to pay a $365,500 penalty for alleged violations related to its operations at the plant.

The Franklin Plant, which is adjacent to the banks of Nottoway River, manufactured chemicals for the paper and printing industry. In the 1990’s, Hercules, the original owner of the plant, sold parts of the facility to Eastman and GEO. Eastman and GEO also manufactured chemicals at the facility. GEO sold its operations and Eastman closed a significant portion of its operations at the plant in 2009.

Along with the settlement papers, the United States filed a complaint against Eastman in the spring and a joint complaint against Hercules and GEO last week alleging environmental violations related to their individual operations at the Franklin plant. Violations include: deficient oil spill prevention and control plans; deficient facility plans to respond to emergency spills; inadequate oil spill response drills and exercises; unlawful oil discharges into the Nottoway River; inadequate oil storage tank “secondary containment”; failure to make required hazardous waste determinations; inadequate plant lighting; failure to report the storage of lead acid batteries; and unpermitted operation of the sodium hydroxide rail car storage area.

The Justice Department will file a settlement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, which has jurisdiction over Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and Richmond metro areas.