Polypropylene compounder Ferro Corp. has agreed to a $3 million cash settlement with several government offices for violations of the Clean Air Act and state and local ordinances in Indiana.
In the settlement reached March 18, Cleveland-based Ferro will pay nearly $1.1 million to the federal government; $600,000 to the state of Indiana; and $1.3 million to the city of Hammond, Ind., where it operates its Keil Chemical Division.
The charges stem from the firm's Pyro-Chek product, a flame retardant it produced from about 1980 to June 2000. During that time, the agencies allege, Ferro emitted tons of volatile organic compounds each year - most notably ethylene dichloride, a possible carcinogen.
Ferro did not admit liability, said James C. Bays, the company's vice president and general counsel.
``We think it's a fair and reasonable settlement,'' Bays said in a March 20 telephone interview. ``It addresses the agency's concerns and the community's concerns and it puts the matter behind us.''
However, Lori Kaplan, management commissioner with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, said: ``I hope this $3 million penalty serves as an unambiguous reminder and a powerful deterrent.''
According to a Ferro news release, the Environmental Protection Agency cited Keil Chemical in 1999 for violations of chemical emissions regulations. In 2000, Ferro shut down the Pyro-Chek business but maintained other chemical operations at the site.
Ferro also will pay $844,000 to fund an environmental project in Hammond. The project involves cleaning up contaminated soil at various sites unrelated to Ferro's business. After the cleanups, the sites will be used as industrial parks.
Additionally, Ferro must perform an audit that will help it comply with all environmental laws, said Tom Sansonetti, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division.
Publicly held Ferro reported $1.5 billion in 2001 sales.