DuPont fined $65K for permit violations before/after Katrina

Published 4:43 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The DuPont Corp. has been fined $65,000 by the state of Mississippi for permit violations at is First Chemical plant in Pascagoula.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, which announced the fine on Monday, said the violations occurred before and after Hurricane Katrina.

First Chemical plant manager James Freeman said the violations were related mostly to administrative reporting errors or equipment failures and did not harm the environment.

“The order covered several different violations and several different problems that were found,” said MDEQ’s Don Watts, chief of the environmental compliance and enforcement division. “We don’t see that their omissions had any significant impact on the environment.”

Watts said the violations involved omissions in recording information required by permits, Katrina-related damage that shut down the plant’s groundwater remediation system, and failures to test air emissions in smokestacks in a timely manner.

MDEQ said the plant also exceeded its permit limits for releasing chlorine over the course of a month and stored a drum of hazardous waste on the site 11 days longer than regulations allow.

Freeman said there were a couple of instrument malfunctions related to the flow levels in the groundwater system, which the company plans to spend $1.5 million upgrading and putting online in early 2007.

“We identified the issues internally, voluntarily reported them to our regulatory agencies and have resolved them,” Freeman said. “These issues did not cause an adverse impact on the environment. We regret these incidents and have fully resolved them.”

Watts said the violations could be chalked up as errors of omission for First Chemical, though that would not change his agency’s enforcement of its rules.

“Anytime people don’t follow their permit, it is a big deal to us,” Watts said. “A big part of the program is people abiding by the self-reporting requirements in a permit.”