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Kodak Settles with EPA on Charges It Failed to Monitor for Air Emissions; Will Pay $175,000 Penalty; Pledges to Follow Regs in Future

Release Date: 07/10/2001
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(#01077) New York, N.Y.– Rochester, New York-based Eastman Kodak Company has settled with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on charges that the company did not test and monitor certain valves and pumps at its Lake Avenue facility for emissions of organic chemicals into the air. The company will pay a $175,000 penalty and has pledged to follow all appropriate environmental regulations for the valves and pumps from now on.

This case was one of several recently brought by EPA against large facilities that handle hazardous waste containing volatile organic compounds – or VOCs – in certain types of equipment. VOCs are toxic chemicals that are potentially harmful to humans if inhaled and are major contributors to smog. They also evaporate into the air very easily.

"We are very pleased that Kodak has settled with us and pledged to keep a close watch on all of its equipment used to transport hazardous waste containing VOCs," said William J. Muszynski, EPA Acting Regional Administrator. "We have noticed a pattern of large companies failing to test some equipment for VOC releases. Given the harm this group of chemicals can do to the environment, it is essential that facilities comply with all of EPA’s hazardous waste air emissions regulations. We will continue to be out inspecting facilities to make sure this is the case."

After inspecting the Rochester facility in May 1999, the agency filed a complaint involving valves and pumps that are part of a system of pipes used to carry hazardous wastes containing volatile organic compounds. The hazardous wastes are generated in Kodak’s chemical manufacturing processes. The agency had determined that certain valves were not checked monthly for leaks of volatile organic compounds over a one-year period, nor were they part of larger tests done by Kodak that would have made them subject only to quarterly testing. EPA also found that since December 1996, Kodak did not do monthly monitoring of a number of other valves or make weekly visual inspections of certain pumps used to move hazardous wastes through the pipes. Kodak stated that it believed these valves and pumps were part of the manufacturing process and not regulated. EPA also charged that Kodak failed to initially test 26 portable containers used to store VOC hazardous wastes to make sure they had no detectable emissions. Kodak’s failure to perform these tests violated EPA regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the law that governs how hazardous waste is managed.

In settlement, the company committed to begin testing and monitoring all the valves and pumps used to transport VOC hazardous waste at the facility, and to ensure that containers storing such waste have no detectable emissions.