Regulators propose settlement with Kronospan for CWA violations

Nov. 10, 2020

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and Alabama regulators recently announced the filing of a proposed consent decree settlement with Kronospan LLC with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama to address alleged violations on the Clean Water Act.

Under the terms of the proposed consent decree, Kronospan will bring its operations into compliance with the Clean Water Act and its State Indirect Discharge (SID) Permit. The requirements include successfully identifying and removing, as verified by a third-party auditor, the objectionable solids in its process wastewater that have caused or contributed to interference with the Oxford Waterworks and Sewer Board’s publicly owned treatment works (POTW). Kronospan will also develop and implement a pretreatment compliance training program and develop certain standard operating procedures for its facility. Kronospan estimates it will spend approximately $350,000 to provide this relief, which it will complete in less than three years.

In addition, the proposed consent decree requires Kronospan to pay a civil penalty of $900,000, to be divided equally between the United States and the State of Alabama. In addition, Kronospan has agreed to take on a significant project that will reduce its burden on the community’s wastewater infrastructure. The supplemental environmental project valued at approximately $7.7 million will install an evaporation system that will reduce by over 86% the annual volume of process wastewater that is pretreated and discharged to the receiving water treatment facility. 

As a result of this settlement, the pollutant loadings from Kronospan’s facility into the POTW will be significantly reduced. The chronic interference with the POTW’s operations and resulting pass-through of pollutants into Choccolocco Creek will cease, and the POTW’s capacity to effectively treat municipal sewage will be restored.

Kronospan is an integrated pulp and fiberboard mill that produces reconstituted wood products used in a variety of products such as furniture, laminate flooring, and other architectural applications. The company operates the production facility located in Eastaboga, Calhoun County, Alabama, as well as others in Pennsylvania.

An EPA investigation found that Kronospan discharged process wastewater to the POTW without a required SID permit from 2007 until July 1, 2012, when ADEM issued Kronospan its SID permit.  

The unauthorized discharge by Kronospan violated General and Specific Pretreatment Standards established by federal law, including the specific prohibitions against discharges at high temperatures, at low pH levels, at high loading rates, and containing obstructive solids. Kronospan’s discharge to the POTW has at times contained high levels of suspended solids, obstructive solids, and oxygen demanding pollutants, as well as corrosive properties and high temperatures that are in excess of the SID permit conditions for discharge to the POTW. Additionally, Kronospan failed to fully comply with the terms of an earlier unilateral Administrative Order issued by the EPA.

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