Tonawanda News

August 15, 2013

Higgins: Keep DuPont fines local

By Jessica Bagley jessica.bagley@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins is calling on the Justice Department to keep the $440,000 in fines to be paid by the DuPont Yerkes plant in Western New York.

The River Road plant agreed to a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency on Aug. 7 over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act and the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act.

Higgins, D-Buffalo, said Wednesday he wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, arguing that the fines would have a greater impact if they were allowed to stay in the community, rather than be directed to a federal fund. 

“While some gains have been made in remediating the environmental damage caused by industrialization in the Town of Tonawanda and the nearby communities, much important work remains to be done. This settlement could be an important resource in advancing that effort,” Higgins said, noting that other environmental cases have resulted in restitution payments for local residents. 

Higgins is encouraging residents to provide their opinions during the 30-day public comment period. Comments can be sent via email to: pubcomment-ees.enrd@usdoj.gov.

DuPont has not admitted any wrongdoing as part of the settlement, and in a statement released last week, plant manager Warren Hoy sad “there were no allegations that the site had any unpermitted emissions or that any impact was made to human health or the environment from these procedural issues.”

The complaint against the company alleges that the defendant failed to submit clear and accurate emission statements and toxic inventory form reports. In addition to the fine, the consent decree also states that DuPont must perform emissions testing and report the findings to the EPA. 

The allegations are related to a 2006 inspection, and both parties entered into the agreement to avoid litigation, the consent decree states. 

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley