Unilever, U.S. Attorney reach agreement for CT plant pollution violation

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Dec. 4, 2013 -- Under the terms of an agreement with the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut (USAO) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Unilever USA will plead guilty to two counts of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) as a result of an illegal discharge of industrial waste at its former Clinton, Conn., manufacturing facility on December 5, 2008.

Accordingly, Unilever will pay a $1 million fine and will also make a $3.5 million charitable donation to the Connecticut Statewide Supplemental Environmental Program (CSSEP), as well as fund various environmentally beneficial projects proposed by the town of Clinton.

Separately, the company reached an agreement with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CDEEP) in connection with a civil enforcement proceeding stemming from the incident.

The 2008 occurrence involved two non-managerial wastewater operators who bypassed portions of the facility's wastewater treatment system. While Unilever voluntarily reported the bypass, it did not notify the CDEEP within two hours of becoming aware of the bypass, as required by the utility's discharge permit.

As part of its agreement, Unilever has also agreed to third-party environmental inspections of its manufacturing facilities in the U.S. at least once during a three-year period and will provide a report describing the inspection results to the government. It will also provide basic environmental compliance training to facility employees as well as those outside of the facility who insist on mandatory environmental notifications.

Unilever will also implement certain closure activities at the former Clinton facility.

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