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EPA and Danbury, Conn. Settle Clean Air Act Case

Release Date: 04/12/2002
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, EPA Press Office (617) 918-1013

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today it has settled a case with the city of Danbury, Conn. for alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

Under the settlement the city will pay a penalty of $10,450 and undertake a supplemental environmental project (SEP) that will have benefits well beyond the monetary fine in this case.

"What this settlement shows is that Danbury is willing to take steps to protect the health and safety of its residents," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office.

The EPA issued its complaint against Danbury in October, 2001. It alleged that the city violated a section of the Clean Air Act that requires facilities to prepare and implement plans to prevent accidental hazardous chemical releases and minimize the consequences of accidental releases that do occur.

Specifically, the act requires owners and operators of facilities that use or store certain hazardous materials over threshold amounts to submit a risk management plan (RMP) that includes a hazard assessment, a prevention program and an emergency response program.

Danbury was required to submit a "Program 3" RMP – the most comprehensive plan required – because of the amount of chlorine it uses at a drinking water treatment plant, the West Lake Filter Plant. EPA's complaint alleged that Danbury filed an inadequate RMP in June 1999 and it was not implementing all of the prevention program requirements.

For the supplemental environmental project, the city will convert the West Lake Filter Plant's chlorine disinfection system to a sodium hypochlorite disinfection system. This conversion will benefit the public health and the environment by eliminating the use of chlorine – an extremely hazardous chemical.

"I want to complement the city on its SEP. It ensures the health and safety of the environment and the residents of the city," Varney said.

Varney stated that the attacks of Sept. 11 have shown the potential vulnerabilities of water treatment plants to possible terrorist attacks. In response, EPA New England is taking action to enforce the laws and regulations that improve the safety of facilities, like water treatment plants, that use, handle, produce or store hazardous chemicals. In addition, EPA New England is expending significant resources to reach out to the operators of water treatment plants to educate them about how to protect their facilities from potential attacks.

For more information about the Clean Air Act and its enforcement program, visit the EPA Web site: