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Release Date: 10/6/1998
Contact Information: Bill Smith (215) 814-2690 David Sternberg (215) 814-5548 October 6, 1998

SELLERSVILLE, Pa. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it is waiving a $211,145 penalty against Ametek, Inc., after the company voluntarily disclosed toxic chemical reporting violations at its U.S. Gauge Division plant in Sellersville, Pa.  The company manufactures heavy vehicle instruments and gauges at the Bucks County site.  

On November 13, 1997, Ametek disclosed to EPA potential violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), a federal law requiring companies to annually report their manufacture, use and release of toxic chemicals.  EPCRA requires companies that manufacture, process or use more than a threshold amount of regulated toxic chemicals to file an annual toxic chemical release form with EPA and the state.  Companies must report both routine and accidental releases of regulated chemicals on these forms.  

Ametek disclosed that from 1994 through 1996, it had inadvertently failed to file toxic chemical release forms for lead, copper, nickel and chromium.  (Note: These are reporting violations: EPA does not allege an unlawful release of these chemicals).  EPA determined that Ametek qualified for a penalty waiver under the agency’s audit policy, which encourages self-policing of environmental compliance and voluntary reporting of violations.  

In accordance with EPA’s audit policy, the company discovered the violations through a systematic review of its environmental compliance status, reported the violations to EPA within 10 days, and promptly corrected the violations and took steps to prevent a recurrence.  Because the company gained no economic benefit from the violations, EPA agreed to a complete penalty waiver in a September 30 administrative consent agreement.  

"We encourage other companies to follow this example by conducting regular environmental audits, promptly disclosing problems, and taking actions to correct violations," said EPA Regional Administrator W. Michael McCabe.

The EPA audit policy was developed as an incentive to companies to implement self-audits for compliance with all environmental laws.  It substantially reduces, and in some cases eliminates, penalties for violations discovered and corrected by a company. The policy does not cover criminal violations, or violations that resulted in significant harm to public health or the environment.  

For more information on the policy, call the EPA Business Assistance Center at 800-228-8711 or check out EPA’s web site at http:/es.epa.ov/ocea/auditpol.html.