An official website of the United States government.

Enforcement

DuPont Settlement Information Sheet

(Washington, DC– July 13, 2020) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Justice, and the state of Texas have announced a settlement with E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) to resolve alleged hazardous waste, air, and water violations at its former La Porte, Texas chemical manufacturing facility.  In 2014, the La Porte facility was the site of a chemical accident where the release of nearly 24,000 pounds of methyl mercaptan resulted in the death of four workers and forced the company to permanently close the chemical manufacturing plant in 2016.  As part of a separate settlement in 2018, DuPont paid a $3.1 million civil penalty for violating EPA’s chemical accident prevention program.  Under this settlement agreement, DuPont will pay a $3.195 million civil penalty.


Overview of Company 

DuPont is a large multinational corporation engaged in chemical manufacturing at many facilities across the United States. E.I du Pont De Nemours merged with Dow Chemical Company in 2017 and split into three publicly traded companies: agriculture (Corteva), materials science (“Dow Inc.”), and specialty products (DuPont). The legal entity E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (the "original" DuPont of 200 years of existence) still exits and will continue to exist. As part of the DowDuPont merger and spin-off, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company ("EID") became a wholly owned subsidiary of the agriscience company Corteva Inc.  EID continues to be the property owner of the La Porte facility.

At the La Porte facility, DuPont produced agrichemicals (herbicides, pesticides and insecticides), organic chemicals (nonhalogenated vinyl compounds), and inorganic chemicals (sulfuric acid and hydrofluoric acid). On November 15, 2014, there was an explosion in the Lannate Process Area which killed 4 employees when methyl mercaptan, a toxic chemical used in the company’s insecticide and fungicide manufacturing process, was released. Lannate is an insecticide with methomyl as the active ingredient. The Lannate Process Area was shut down following the explosion and in March 2016, DuPont announced that it would permanently close the Lannate Process Area and cease its agrichemical manufacturing operations, but would continue to operate its wastewater treatment system for third-party tenant operators. 

Top of Page

Violations

This settlement resolves DuPont’s liability for alleged violations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), including failure to determine if a solid waste is a hazardous waste (30 Tex. Admin. Code §§ 335.62 and 335.70 and 40 C.F.R.§§ 262.11 and 262.40); treatment, storage or disposal of hazardous waste without a permit or interim status (42 U.S.C. § 6925(a) and 40 C.F.R. Parts 264/265 and 270 and 30 Tex. Admin. Code § 335.43(a)); failure to perform land disposal determinations and to meet land disposal restrictions for hazardous wastes (Tex. Admin. Code § 335.431(c)(1) and 40 C.F.R. Part 268); failure to provide financial assurance for closure, long-term care, and third-party liability for all storage/disposal units that received hazardous waste (30 Tex. Admin. Code §§ 37.6021 and 335.179(b) and 335.128(a) and 40 C.F.R. §§ 264.143 and 265.143); failure to implement secondary containment for a diesel tank, as required by 40 C.F.R. § 112.7; failure to fully implement the facility’s Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (“SPCC”) plan in violation of CWA Section 311(j)(1)(C), 33 U.S.C § 1321(j)(1)(C) and failure to comply with Pesticide Active Ingredient (“PAI”) MACT at its Biological Water Treatment unit as required by 40 C.F.R. § 63.138(a) and 40 C.F.R. §§ 63.145(h)(1) and 63.1362(d). 

Top of Page

Injunctive Relief

The injunctive relief required by the consent decree includes:

a)  Developing a RCRA Waste Management Plan setting forth procedures for identifying, tracking, and managing all solid waste streams that are discharged to the wastewater treatment system.

b)  Investigating the sediments within the Equalization Basin (“EQB”), North Aeration Basin (“NAB”), South Aeration Basin (“SAB”), and Emergency Retention Basin (“ERB”) for the presence of constituents of concern (“COCs”). If any COCs are detected in sediments at concentrations above the level, then the investigation shall be extended to the soils below the affected unit for those COCs.

c)  If the investigation determines that there are COCs in soils below the ERB, EQB, NAB or SAB that are above the determined level, then DuPont will extend the investigation for those COCs to the groundwater below and, to the extent necessary, downgradient of the affected unit. 

d)  Upon completion of the investigation, DuPont will submit a report which will address the full nature and extent of the contamination, including the risk assessment results, QA/QC procedures followed, Data Quality Objectives met, and a description of recommended response actions, including interim actions. If a response action plan (“RAP”) is required, then DuPont will submit a RAP to TCEQ which shall include the necessary response actions to remove, decontaminate, and/or control any COCs.

e)  Completing the extensions of upgrades to the entire Clean Water Ditch (“CWD”) by installing HDPE pipe (48” diam) in the current wood-lined ditch and backfilled with flowable fill beneath.  Concrete collection boxes will be installed at each end to accommodate the existing dual 36” culverts and a new 48” single HDPE pipe. And a new concrete mixing sump will be installed in the location of the agitators.

f)  For CWA injunctive relief, re-evaluating and verifying compliance with secondary containment for the diesel storage tank area and for any oil-containing transformers and submit a revised and/or corrected current SPCC Plan.    

g)  For CAA injunctive relief, demonstrating that the EQB meets the definition of an “enhanced biological treatment system or enhanced biological treatment process” consistent with the Polyether Polyols Production (“PPP”) MACT wastewater requirements.

Top of Page

Pollutant Impacts

The facility is located within the drainage area of the Houston Ship Channel and San Jacinto River. It is bounded on the north and east by the San Jacinto Bay and on the south and west by other industrial landowners.  The wastewater treatment unit is comprised of unlined surface impoundments. The Decree includes RCRA corrective action obligations for these units to ensure cleanup of any soil, sediment or groundwater contamination, if identified through sampling. DuPont currently operates monitoring wells in the uppermost aquifer to evaluate the extent of groundwater contamination pursuant to an existing corrective action permit.

Top of Page

Environmental Benefits

The RCRA injunctive relief requires full determinations of all solid wastes handled at the facility. This will ensure that all hazardous characteristics of the waste will be known and properly addressed and that contaminants will not be unknowingly released into the San Jacinto Bay. The RCRA injunctive relief also requires investigation and characterization of any contamination in and from the units associated with the wastewater treatment system.  This will ensure that any contamination is discovered and properly addressed and any impacts to the groundwater or the surrounding environment from the units will be addressed.  This includes contaminants that could migrate through the groundwater and enter surface waters of the Houston Ship Channel and the San Jacinto River, where they could adversely affect receptor organisms that have habitats in those areas.

The CWA injunctive relief ensures that potentially spilled material does not discharge into waterways.

The CAA injunctive relief requires that wastewaters treated in a biological treatment unit are thoroughly mixed and properly controlled to prevent the release of pollutants considered probable human carcinogens when inhaled, resulting in adverse health effects following exposure.

Top of Page

Civil Penalty

DuPont will pay a civil penalty of $3.195M to resolve the alleged past violations of RCRA, CWA and CAA and the penalty will be split with the State of Texas who is a co-plaintiff in this action.

Top of Page

Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Texas, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.    Information on submitting comment is available at the Department of Justice.

Top of Page

Contacts for Further Information

Ann Stephanos
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
202-564-4006
stephanos.ann@epa.gov

Top of Page