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Honeywell’s wastewater release into James River prompts $300,00 fine, $13 million in upgrades

Posted at 1:52 PM, Aug 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-24 14:26:58-04

RICHMOND, VA. – For the second time in two years, the Hopewell Honeywell manufacturing facility will pay a penalty for environmental violations.

Honeywell’s violations include poor water quality monitoring and reporting, and releases of chemicals and other materials used by Honeywell, according to the Department of Environmental Quality.

The chemicals used at the plant are nitric acid, hydroxylamine, methyl ethyl ketoxime, methyl ethyl ketone, ammonium carbonate, caprolactam, cyclohexanone, oil, hydraulic fluid and gasoline.

The most recent spill occurred in November 2014, according to the DEQ, and resulted in a kill of more than 2,000 fish in Gravelly Run, a tributary of the James River.

The state agency said that this is not the first time that wastewater has been released into the James River, due to the deteriorated condition of process sewers at the facility – which was built in 1928 by Allied Chemicals.

In addition to the proposed $300,000 penalty, the agency recommended that Honeywell  inspect, repair or replace the process sewers.

To prevent future toxic releases, Honeywell is required to address defects in sumps, trenches and the facility’s sewer system. The cost of corrective action required by the order is estimated to exceed $13 million.

In addition to the proposed enforcement action, DEQ and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are coordinating to address natural resource damages caused by past spills.

DEQ has issued 14 enforcement orders to Honeywell since 1990.

In addition, a joint consent decree by DEQ and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was issued to Honeywell in 2013 for air quality violations.

In that situation, two sirens sounded over the city of Hopewell after an orange chemical cloud was spotted hovering over parts of the city.

In 2013, Honeywell agreed to pay the $3 million fine and upgrade the plant’s air pollution control equipment.

Spokesperson Peter Dalpe said in a release that the company is committed to health, safety and the environment at all its facilities.

 The Hopewell facility has made substantial investments in health, safety and the environment over the past five years, including $46 million to upgrade Hopewell’s environmental control systems. It plans to spend another $54 million on those systems, which will help reduce NOx emissions from the site by 80 percent from 2004 levels. In addition to that investment, the plant has spent $50 million since 2010 on other projects directly related to health, safety and the environment.”

The State Water Control Board will make a final decision on the consent order at its meeting Oct. 1, 2015.