Rosemount’s Spectro Alloys to pay $500,000 for failing to disclose emissions violations
A Rosemount company was ordered to pay a $500,000 fine after it pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis to two counts of violating the federal false statements statute, according to a release from the U.S Attorney’s Office.
Spectro Alloys Corporation, which operates a secondary aluminum processing facility, was charged in April after allegedly failing to disclose violations of limits placed on its emissions of hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.
Judge John R. Tunheim sentenced the company to pay the criminal fine, placed Spectro on probation for two years, and ordered it to develop, implement, and maintain procedures to ensure complete and accurate reporting in the future.
Spectro must retain a full-time environmental health and safety manager and report to both the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Environmental Protection Agency the results of all emissions testing, whether or not required by law.
Spectro is also required under the terms of a parallel civil settlement to install additional pollution-control equipment relating to its emissions.
“In order to safeguard public health, it is absolutely essential that government officials assure compliance with environmental regulations through accurate testing, measurement, and honest reporting,” said Randall Ashe, special agent-in-charge of the U.S. EPA criminal enforcement program in Chicago, whose region includes Minnesota. “Violators who submit false information undermine our efforts to protect the public and the environment. Today’s guilty plea should serve as a warning to anyone who knowingly puts the public’s health at risk: you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Spectro admitted that in May 2007, it submitted a semi-annual compliance report to both the MPCA and the EPA that falsely indicated that its facility was in compliance with all pollution limits. The company failed to disclose that its own testing had revealed excessive dioxin/furans emissions. Spectro further admitted that in a letter sent to the EPA in March 2007, which was submitted in response to a violation notice issued by the EPA, the company also knowingly failed to disclose those excessive dioxin/furan emissions.
In addition to today’s guilty plea, the United States recently reached a settlement with Spectro regarding civil claims filed by the EPA for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act and civil administrative claims of the EPA for alleged violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The civil settlement, embodied in a consent decree, is awaiting final court approval.
The consent decree resolves allegations that in 2009, the company emitted dioxin/furans and hydrochloric acid in amounts exceeding federal emissions limits; that the company failed to install, operate, and inspect an adequate system to capture and treat its emissions; and that between 2004 and 2008, it violated various Clean Air Act regulations regarding monitoring, reporting, and temperature maintenance. The consent decree also settles alleged violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act for operating a hazardous waste storage facility without a permit or interim status and failing to comply with hazardous waste management requirements at the Spectro facility.
Under the proposed consent decree, Spectro will pay a civil penalty of $600,000, install additional pollution control equipment, conduct additional emissions testing, and accurately comply with all reporting requirements.