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EPA and Lilly del Caribe Settle Notification Violations; Company will pay $39,000 for Environmental Infractions in Hurricane Georges Aftermath
Release Date: 05/17/2000
|(#00097) San Juan, Puerto Rico -- Lilly del Caribe will pay $39,000 -- more than 95% of the penalty of $41,250 proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -- for failing to immediately notify proper officials that it had lost eighteen 55-gallon drums of propionic anhydride from its Mayaguez Facility during the floods related to Hurricane Georges on September 21-22, 1998. The company violated EPA's notification requirements under both the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), more commonly known as Superfund.
"Lilly del Caribe made it harder to find the drums, many of which contained hazardous materials, by not immediately notifying the authorities and not being able to tell them how many drums were missing," said Jeanne M. Fox, EPA Regional Administrator. "There is no excuse. The company should have been better prepared to react quickly and should have had a reliable inventory. This should be a lesson to other companies to be prepared for emergency situations."
Nearly 50 drums, almost half of which contained hazardous substances, were swept away in flood waters on September 21 and 22, 1998. The facility did not report the loss of the drums until October 2, 1998, and did not make a full effort to obtain a reliable inventory of drums on its property at the time of the loss. Early last year, EPA cited Lilly del Caribe for these violations.
Prior to the case settlement, a Federal Judge had made several rulings in EPA's favor that have provide a more protective interpretation of federal environmental law. Most notably, the Judge ruled on December 14, 1999 that a release to the environment did occur, within the meaning of CERCLA and EPCRA, when the eighteen drums of propionic anhydride were swept away from the facility, even though the drums were recovered and did not leak.
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