Neville Chemical chief comments on $17M fine agreement with Penn. DEP

Thomas McKnight, chief operating officer of Neville Chemical Company, issued a statement regarding an April 7 release from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection about a consent order and agreement reached with the company regarding groundwater cleanup of a Brownfield site and assessment of over $17 million in civil penalties...

PITTSBURGH, April 8, 2005 (PRNewswire) -- The following statement was issued by Thomas McKnight, chief operating officer of Neville Chemical Company, regarding an April 7 release from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection about a consent order and agreement reached with the company.

The Pennsylvania DEP release on this topic can be found at: "DEP SIGNS CONSENT ORDER WITH NEVILLE CHEMICAL TO CLEAN UP GROUNDWATER CONTAMINATION".

In his response, McKnight said:

"Neville Chemical Company and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today have reached a settlement of a civil action which the DEP filed in October 2003 before the Environmental Hearing Board (EHB), for an assessment of more than $17 million in civil penalties against Neville.

"In settling this case, DEP and Neville agreed that the company would invest $2 million for equipment and processes that will greatly improve our in-plant wastewater collection and treatment system.

"The agreement recognizes our responsibilities and our continuing commitment to operate within the regulations set down by state and federal agencies, while vigorously working to remediate contaminated groundwater under the plant, that resulted from operating practices conducted decades ago.

"Neville and the DEP have worked very closely since 1999 when Neville requested that the DEP approve an Act 2 (also called 'Brownfield' legislation) site wide groundwater remediation plan. The groundwater problems surrounding our plant resulted from legal and accepted practices that took place 30 to 80 years ago. In fact, environmental regulations did not impact our industry until the 1970's and later.

"It has always been our intention to address our environmental challenges in the most comprehensive and efficient ways possible. We believe that we have always responded quickly and effectively when problems arose.

"Neville and the DEP have produced an excellent remediation plan for the entire Neville plant site, which the DEP approved in December 2003. We have been working in close cooperation with them since then in implementing that plan.

"The release of oil caused by the shutdown of a cooling water well in December 2001, which was the subject matter of the pending litigation, was an accident that had little to do with the Act 2 project that Neville and the DEP were developing. With the settlement, this litigation can now be put behind us.

"In arriving at a negotiated settlement of this case, we believe the DEP recognized that long-term, positive solutions would occur only when investments are made in technologies and processes at our plant. This agreement will allow Neville to direct our resources to those investments.

"We congratulate DEP Secretary Kathleen McGinty for taking a broad and progressive view of this conflict that led to an agreement that satisfies the department's responsibility to enforce regulations while allowing Neville to perform an environmental project at the plant site which will enhance Neville's environmental capabilities.

"Similarly, we recognize the positive role played by John DeFazio, Director, United Steelworkers of America (USWA), Charles Leonard, Staff Representative, USWA, and Ron Marino, local president USWA, in encouraging both sides to negotiate and achieve a positive solution. These labor leaders acted in the best interests of their members, Neville and the community at large, and we thank them.

"And, Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and their respective staffs added their voices encouraging negotiations, also recognizing the importance of a solution that would protect the environment and encourage economic development.

"Today, Neville is proud of the fact that a workable and comprehensive Act 2 program to deal with contamination in the groundwater under the plant has been underway for more than a year.

"Neville's (www.nevchem.com) management and employees cannot emphasize enough our satisfaction with how these issues have been resolved and our commitment to moving forward in positive ways for the good of all concerned."

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