HENDERSON, Nev. -- A manufacturer in Henderson agreed to pay a record $13.75 million in civil penalties to the Environmental Protection Agency for investigation and clean up efforts at its plant.
TIMET is one of the largest producers of titanium parts for jet engines and has been in Nevada for 64 years. The money will pay for an investigation and clean up of contamination stemming primarily from the unauthorized manufacture and disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at its plant in Henderson.
According to the Justice Department, the penalty is the largest ever imposed at a single facility for violations to the Toxic Substance Control Act. The Environmental Protection Agency says Henderson residents should be pleased with the outcome.
"The residents should be pleased that TIMET is agreeing to perform a full site-wide investigation of their facility and remediate andy potential problems that they might find," said Thomas Butler, EPA.
TIMET will pay an additional $250,000 for violations related to illegal disposal of hazardous process wastewater, in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Under the settlement, EPA expects that the settlement will result in the removal of roughly 84,000 pounds of PCB-contaminated waste from the environment each year, and will prevent the improper disposal of 56 million pounds of hazardous waste each year.
“This settlement holds TIMET fully accountable for the period of its unauthorized manufacture and handling of harmful PCBs at the Henderson facility,” said Robert G. Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. “It will also result in substantial environmental cleanup and protection for the benefit of residents of the area, now and in the future.”
In addition to paying the penalty and performing the investigation and cleanup, the settlement requires TIMET to electronically submit monitoring data biannually to the EPA for three years showing that it is appropriately managing any PCBs it generates. TIMET has also agreed to allow the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection to make public TIMET’s EPA-approved work plans and completed work reports through a dedicated website.
The company has already spent roughly $6 million on investigation, site cleanup and compliance measures to address the potential contamination. This work has included: extensive sampling; draining and relining of a surface impoundment; analyzing the extent of PCB contamination in its solid waste landfill; removing PCB waste from that landfill; and decontaminating processing equipment. In addition, TIMET estimates that it will spend at least $1 million to complete the work required by the settlement.
TIMET processes titanium from rutile ore at its 108-acre manufacturing facility at the Black Mountain Industrial Complex in Henderson. This process generates hazardous waste and PCBs. In the complaint, the government alleged that EPA inspections conducted in 2005, 2006 and 2008 revealed that TIMET had been unlawfully manufacturing PCBs as a by-product of its titanium manufacturing process.
The 2008 EPA inspection also revealed that the company had disposed of PCB-contaminated waste in a solid waste landfill and a trench at the plant. The complaint further alleges that, on several occasions during 2005 and 2007, the company had unlawfully disposed of acidic, corrosive hazardous process wastewater into an unpermitted surface impoundment at the facility.
Since 2007, the company has been working with EPA to bring the facility into compliance. TIMET has taken steps to reduce significantly the amount of PCBs it generates, manage appropriately the PCBs it does generate, and TIMET already has corrected the other regulatory violations cited in the complaint.
TIMET was purchased by Precision Castparts Corporation in 2012. Both companies have worked with the EPA to achieve compliance and to clean up the operations. The EPA and state of Nevada will continue to oversee multiple cleanup efforts at the facility and in the BMI Complex.
PCBs are human-made organic chemicals that were widely used in paints, construction materials, plastics, and electrical equipment prior to 1978. PCBs, which are probable carcinogens, have been banned in the United States for the last 30 years, except for specific uses authorized by regulations. When released into the environment, PCBs can persist for decades because they do not break down through natural processes. Exposure to PCBs has been demonstrated to cause cancer, as well as a variety of other adverse health effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system.
TIMET, headquartered near Philadelphia, has been supplying nearly one-fifth of the world’s titanium demand since 1950. The company’s Henderson plant, which has been in operation since 1950, is one of the largest industrial facilities in the state. TIMET is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Precision Castparts Corporation, a worldwide manufacturer of complex metal components and products based in Portland, Ore.