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Dow Chemical Company Settlement

(Washington, DC - July 29, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice today announced that Dow Chemical Company (Dow) has agreed to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) at its chemical manufacturing and research complex in Midland, Mich.

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Overview of Company

Dow's Midland facility began operation in 1897 and is located on approximately 1,900 acres and contains 550 buildings and 30 production plants. Dow employs approximately 3,000 people at the facility. Dow manufactures chemicals, plastic materials, and agricultural and other specialized products at the facility.

Extensive dioxin and furan contamination of the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers, as well as Saginaw Bay, related to past operations at the Dow Midland facility is being addressed in separate actions by EPA and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The current settlement is unrelated to those cleanup activities.

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EPA's National Enforcement Investigation Center (NEIC) and EPA Region 5 conducted on-site, multi-statute inspections of Dow's Midland facility during four site visits between August 2005 and August 2006. In addition, EPA Region 5 inspectors conducted a Clean Air Act inspection in March 2007.

Based on these inspections and other information obtained from Dow, EPA determined that Dow had violations under the following statutes:

Clean Air Act (CAA)

Dow violated the Clean Air Act's National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) at several of its process units at the Midland facility. The NESHAP requirements are intended to reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants from industrial sources.

With the exception of violations of one emission limitation of the NESHAP for Pharmaceuticals Production, all of the violations alleged by EPA involve failure to comply with various NESHAP provisions related to initial compliance demonstrations, testing, monitoring, leak detection, recordkeeping, and reporting.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

The most serious RCRA violations resulted from cracks and pits in secondary containment structures for several tanks and pieces of equipment at the Midland facility. Secondary containment structures are ditches, walls, and other types of structures intended to hold in accidental spills and releases of hazardous waste from tanks and equipment. Cracks and pits in secondary containment structures threaten the integrity of the structure, which can result in a release of hazardous waste into the surrounding environment.

Clean Water Act (CWA)

Dow's Clean Water Act violations resulted from its failure to identify in its Clean Water Act permit application seven additional waste streams that contributed to its unpermitted outfall discharges to the Tittabawassee River. In addition, Dow failed to update its Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan to identify and evaluate runoff from several secondary containment structures. Facilities are required to develop a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan to prevent pollution from running into nearby water bodies during rain events.

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Injunctive Relief

Clean Air Act (CAA)

Dow has corrected all of the Clean Air Act violations EPA found, including performing initial compliance demonstrations for condensers, submitting design evaluations for condensers and scrubbers, recalculating some emission estimates, equipping lines with secondary closure devices, monitoring connectors that had not previously been monitored and correcting recordkeeping and reporting errors.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

Dow has repaired the cracks and pits in the secondary containment structures and corrected the other RCRA violations.

Clean Water Act (CWA)

Dow has modified its Clean Water Act permit application to include the additional waste streams and the secondary containment structures containing storm water runoff.

Clean Air Project - further reduction of hazardous air pollutants

While Dow has already corrected all the violations identified by EPA during its investigation, the settlement requires Dow to take measures beyond what is required by EPA regulations in order to further reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants from the Midland facility. As part of the settlement, Dow will implement an enhanced leak detection and repair (LDAR) program at process units where EPA discovered the most serious problems with leak detection and repair. EPA's LDAR regulations require facility operators to periodically monitor their process equipment and other structures, particularly pipe joints, pump seals, valves, and flanges, to detect and repair air pollution leaks, including leaks of hazardous air pollutants.

The enhanced LDAR program that Dow will undertake includes more frequent leak monitoring, lower leak repair action levels, and a valve and connector replacement program for chronically leaking valves and connectors. In addition, Dow will use state-of-the-art valves and valve packing materials that are guaranteed not to leak when it installs a new valve.

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Pollutant Reductions

EPA estimates that the enhanced LDAR program will reduce hazardous air pollutants from the Dow Midland facility by up to nine tons annually.

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Health and Environmental Effects

Dow's actions potentially resulted in excess emissions of hazardous air pollutants from the Dow Midland facility. In 1990, Congress identified 187 hazardous air pollutants that present significant threats to human health and asked EPA to promulgate strict emission control requirements for these hazardous air pollutants, which are emitted by a wide range of industrial and commercial facilities. These pollutants are known or suspected to cause cancer and other serious health effects, such as reproductive or birth defects. This threat may be particularly important for communities with disproportionate exposure to environmental risks and those with greater concentrations of sensitive populations, including urban minority and low-income communities.

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Civil Penalty

Dow will pay a $2.5 million penalty.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice Web site.

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For more information, contact:

Bruce Fergusson
Special Litigation & Projects Enforcement Division
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington DC 20460
(202) 564-1261
Bruce Fergusson (

Christine Liszewski
Office of Regional Counsel
Region 5
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
77 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL
(312) 886-4670
Christine Liszewski (

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