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EMD Millipore Corporation Clean Water Act Settlement

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice today announced a settlement under the terms of a Consent Decree lodged in federal court, EMD Millipore Corp. of Jaffrey, N.H., will upgrade its on-site wastewater treatment system to comply with the terms of the company's industrial wastewater discharge permit and prevent pretreatment violations of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). The company will also pay a civil penalty of $385,000 for alleged violations of the CWA.

Overview of Company

EMD Millipore, known as Merck Millipore outside of the United States and Canada, is the American subsidiary of Merck, and was formed when Merck acquired the Millipore Corporation in 2010. EMD Millipore is the life science business of Merck, and Merck is a German multinational pharmaceutical and chemical company with around 40,000 employees in 64 countries. EMD Millipore operates a facility located in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, which employs around 600 people and manufactures plastic membrane water filtration devices for the pharmaceutical and biomedical industry worldwide.

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The noncompliance addressed by the consent decree includes Millipore’s violation of the Clean Water Act pretreatment regulations by causing pass through and interference at the Jaffrey, New Hampshire publicly owned treatment works (POTW). Millipore introduced wastewaters into the Jaffrey POTW in violation of the federal pH prohibition standard and failed to notify the POTW of potential problems, including slug loadings associated with wastewaters introduced into the POTW. Millipore also violated its industrial wastewater discharge permit and Jaffrey’s sewer use ordinance by discharging to the POTW industrial process wastewater in excess of the permitted industrial flow rate limits.

Millipore’s pass through and interference violations occurred on numerous occasions from February 2011 through March of 2015. Those violations resulted from Millipore’s periodically introducing high strength organic waste that inhibited the POTW’s biological treatment systems and led to excessive amounts of ammonia nitrogen and/or carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand (“cBOD”) in the POTW’s discharge to the Contoocook River. 

Millipore also violated the pretreatment regulations by introducing wastewaters to the POTW with a pH outside the federal limit on numerous occasions from August 2011 through February 2015.  The facility also violated the pretreatment regulations by failing to notify the POTW of discharges that had a potential to disrupt the operations at the POTW. Failing to notify the POTW of such discharges contributes to the POTW violating its permit limits.

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Injunctive Relief

EPA is seeking significant injunctive relief in the consent decree, including upgrades to the company’s wastewater management and treatment system, the initiation of annual training for all individuals with responsibilities that include CWA compliance, and the conduct of sampling, analysis and quarterly reporting. The required injunctive relief is valued at $3.5 million.

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Pollutant Impacts

The pollutants in this case include ammonia, total suspended solids, hydrogen ion concentration, and oxygen demanding pollutants such as biochemical oxygen demand. Millipore’s periodic introduction of high strength organic waste into the POTW inhibited its biological treatment systems, and led to excessive amounts of ammonia nitrogen and/or cBOD in the POTW’s discharge to the Contoocook River. The discharge of pollutants to the POTW with a pH less than 5.0 could also corrode piping and equipment in the POTW treatment plant itself and create a dangerous working environment for sewage treatment plant workers. 

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Health and Environment Effects

When the required injunctive relief is implemented, the consent decree will help reduce the exposure of surrounding communities to pollutants that can significantly impair streams and watersheds. The injunctive relief is projected to result in the following annual reductions:

  • 17,520 pounds of total suspended solids;
  • 29,930 pounds of biochemical oxygen demand

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Civil Penalty

The civil penalty to be paid by defendants is $385,000.

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Comment Period

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

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For more information, contact:

Kevin Pechulis
Enforcement Counsel
Office of Environmental Stewardship
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region I
5 Post Office Square
Boston, MA 02109-3912
(617) 918-1612

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