ALBANY, N.Y.—Momentive Performance Materials Silicones L.L.C. has agreed to pay a $1.25 million civil penalty to settle allegations that the company violated state and federal environmental laws at its facility in Waterford, N.Y.
Judge Brenda K. Sannes of the Albany federal district court signed the settlement agreement May 4. Jack Boss, Momentive president and CEO, signed the agreement in April, as did representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the New York Attorney General's office and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Albany, MPM bought the Waterford plant from General Electric Co. in 2006 and continues to operate it.
MPM operated a rotary kiln incinerator at Waterford that generated hazardous waste during the production of silicone sealants and other silicone products, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The New York DEC had given MPM permits to dispose of the waste onsite, the agency said. The permits were contingent partly on the automatic waste feed cutoff system in MPM's incinerator that was designed to shut down waste disposal if operating parameters deviated from those allowed by the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation Recovery Act, it said.
However, MPM did not tell federal and state authorities of its computer program to override the waste feed cutoff system, according to the agency.
Between Dec. 4, 2006, and Dec. 31, 2008, MPM used the computer override at least 4,213 times, allowing MPM to burn hazardous waste in violation of federal rules, it said.
The override allowed MPM to emit carbon monoxide in excess of 100 parts per million, according to the settlement agreement.
Within 30 days of the court's May 4 approval of the agreement, MPM must pay $625,000 to the federal government and $625,000 to the State of New York, plus interest, the agreement said.
MPM disclosed the extent of the overrides and cooperated fully with federal investigators, according to the U.S. Attorney General's office. It also implemented new calibration procedures and modified equipment to correct the noncompliance, it said.
"This settlement emphasizes that companies must adhere to mandated air pollution controls when disposing of hazardous wastes," Grant C. Jaquith, first assistant U.S. attorney in Albany, said in a press release.
Both federal officials and MPM noted that GE, in its previous ownership of the site, committed similar violations.
"This represents the final resolution to an issue that Momentive corrected more than eight years ago after identifying the issue that began under GE's ownership, and for which there is no indication of any impact on the environment," MPM said in a statement.