Manufacturer settles with EPA for water violations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia

Nov. 20, 2020

Chemicals and materials manufacturer Koppers Inc. has agreed to settle with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as regulators in West Virginia and Pennsylvania to resolve alleged violations of federal and state environmental laws at its facilities in Follansbee and Green Spring, West Virginia, and Clairton, Pennsylvania.

A complaint filed with the settlement agreement cited violations of the Clean Water Act’s Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) and Facility Response Plan (FRP) requirements. The SPCC rules help facilities prevent a discharge of oil into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. The FRP rules require certain facilities to submit a response plan and prepare to respond to a worst-case oil discharge or threat of a discharge.  Koppers is a Pittsburgh-based company involved in carbon materials and chemicals, railroad products and services, and performance chemicals.

Under a proposed consent decree filed in the United States District Court of the Northern District of West Virginia, Koppers will pay $800,000 to the United States, $175,000 to West Virginia, and $24,500 to Pennsylvania. The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period.

The complaint also cited violations of the West Virginia Above Ground Storage Tank Act and its implementing regulations, which seek to protect and conserve the water resources of the state and its citizens. In addition, the complaint cited violations of the Pennsylvania Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act and its implementing regulations, which set forth tank handling and inspection requirements.

According to EPA, the most significant violations were at the Follansbee facility – notably, deficiencies in the facility’s secondary containment for spills, and inadequate structural integrity inspection and testing of aboveground tanks.

EPA cited other major SPCC violations at the Clairton and now-closed Green Spring facilities, and other violations of the FRP regulations at the Clairton and Follansbee facilities.

In addition to the penalty, the consent decree requires Koppers to conduct integrity testing of specified tanks at the Follansbee site, or take them out of service; and to comply with SPCC and FRP reporting and plan amendment requirements.

As part of the settlement, the company did not admit the alleged violations, but has certified that it is now in compliance with applicable requirements.

For more information regarding the spill prevention and preparedness, visit https://www.epa.gov/oil-spills-prevention-and-preparedness-regulations

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