U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced recently that U.S. District Court Judge Cameron Currie approved a consent decree with Weylchem US Inc. to resolve alleged violations of federal and state air, water, and solid waste pollution laws at Weylchem’s specialty chemical manufacturing facility in Elgin and its wastewater treatment plant in Lugoff. Under the consent decree, Weylchem agreed to perform corrective action measures and to pay a civil penalty of $500,000, of which $175,000 will be paid to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
The facility has operated in Elgin since 1967 under various names including Elgin Fine Chemicals, Clariant LSM (America) Inc., and Archimica Inc. The facility produces chemicals for use in pharmaceuticals, pesticides and other products.
The consent decree addresses alleged violations including the mismanagement of hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and South Carolina regulations, and standards for hazardous air pollutant emissions under the Clean Air Act. Alleged violations at the Lugoff facility include discharges to the Wateree River that exceeded permitted limits for many of the contaminants of concern under the Clean Water Act. Contaminants of concern include benzene, benzoyl chloride, chlorine, ethyl chloride, ethylene glycol, methanol, methylene chloride, phenol, toluene, and xylene.
Nettles expressed his satisfaction with the consent decree, “After years of negotiations, this consent decree is good news for the Lugoff and Elgin communities and the people of South Carolina. Of particular significance is the fact that this consent decree requires Weylchem to eliminate the discharge to the Wateree River and to stop trucking the waste from Elgin to Lugoff, which of course means that there is no opportunity for a spill on our highways.”
“This agreement will result in better management practices that will ultimately lead to greater protection of public health and the environment for the citizens of South Carolina,” said Gwen Keyes Fleming, regional administrator for EPA.
Under the terms of the settlement, Weylchem will no longer be allowed to send wastewater from the Elgin facility to the Lugoff facility and by the end of 2013 will be prohibited from discharging any wastewater into the Wateree River at the Lugoff facility. In addition to eliminating discharge into the Wateree River, the settlement will also result in the elimination of noise and pollution from approximately 30 tanker truck trips per day over public roads and the potential for spills of industrial wastewater during transport.
The facility has already completed a project to reduce its air emissions by improving its air pollution control equipment. The settlement also requires Weylchem to make significant changes to the current operations at the Elgin facility. The corrective actions include addressing fugitive air emissions by implementing an enhanced leak testing and repair regime based on the results of a third-party audit. Weylchem will also test its waste tanks and basins, and sample wastewater and sediment at the Elgin facility, and, if the tests show that tanks or basins are leaking, will make necessary repairs and address potential impacts to the environment. Furthermore, Weylchem has agreed to investigate possible soil or groundwater contamination at the Lugoff site and, if contamination is discovered, to develop and implement a cleanup plan.