Environment News Service (ENS)

Aerospace Giant to Pay $12 Million for Discharge Violations

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Source: Environment News Service (ENS)

HARTFORD, Connecticut (ENS) - Aerospace systems manufacturer Hamilton Sundstrand Corporation, of Windsor Locks, Connecticut, pleaded guilty on Thursday before U.S. District Judge Alvin Thompson in Hartford to two counts of violating the federal Clean Water Act. The company admitted discharging hexavalent chromium and copper to the Farmington River in excess of its permit limits.

In a binding plea agreement filed with the Court, Hamilton Sundstrand has agreed to be placed on probation for a period of five years and to pay a fine in the amount of $1 million. Other penalties, contributions to environmental programs and facility upgrades will cost the company about $11 million.

With more than 16,000 employees and facilities throughout the world, Hamilton Sundstrand, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., is among the largest global suppliers of technologically advanced aerospace and industrial products.

At its headquarters facility in Windsor Locks, Hamilton Sundstrand manufactures air, spacecraft and marine control systems and components, and in the process generates various metal finishing and parts-testing wastewaters that contain toxic pollutants, including chromium and copper.

Some of those wastewaters were treated on-site in Hamilton Sundstrand’s wastewater treatment system before being discharged into the Farmington River under an federal permit. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, NPDES, permit established numerical limits at specified discharge locations for a list of pollutants, including hexavalent chromium and copper.

The results of required monitoring were required to be submitted to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, CT DEP, in monthly Discharge Monitoring Reports, DMRs.

In pleading guilty, Hamilton Sundstrand admitted that, from 2001 through 2003, the chrome reactor did not meet hexavalent chromium permit limits on a consistent basis. When grab samples revealed hexavalent chromium levels above permit limits, Hamilton Sundstrand sometimes omitted the data from Daily Records Sheets entirely.

At other times, the data was recorded on the Daily Records Sheets and then altered to conceal the permit violations.

In either case, the chrome violations were not reported to CT DEP on the monthly DMRs. Instead, Hamilton Sundstrand knowingly submitted monthly DMRs that falsely presented altered and selected data as 'representative' of the chrome reactor discharge, thereby concealing repeated violations of its NPDES permit.

Hamilton Sundstrand also admitted that, on August 29, 2003, the beginning of Labor Day Weekend, its employees transferred the contents of a tank containing chelated copper to a holding tank in the wastewater treatment area and then into the wastewater treatment system.

The concentrated solution from the tank contaminated more than 100,000 gallons of wastewater, and turned the contents of the entire system blue.

Some facility systems continued to operate throughout the holiday weekend and wastewater continued to enter the treatment system, until by Monday, September 1, 2003, the system was nearing capacity.

Rather than stopping or rerouting wastewater flows, Hamilton Sundstrand knowingly discharged tens of thousands of gallons of contaminated wastewater to the Farmington River between the morning of September 1 and the morning of September 2, 2003.

The wastewater was not analyzed prior to the discharge and CT DEP was not notified.

Subsequent analysis of a sample of the contaminated wastewater gathered on September 2, 2003 revealed concentrations of copper more than seven times over the maximum levels allowed by the NPDES permit.

Samples gathered on September 3, 2003 violated both daily maximum and monthly average limits for copper. Samples collected on September 3, 2003 and September 9, 2003 also violated the permit’s aquatic toxicity limits.

In addition to the $1 million fine, Hamilton Sundstrand has also agreed to:

  • Make a contribution in the amount of $500,000 to the Connecticut Statewide Supplemental Environment Programs, SEP, Account, managed by the CT DEP. The contribution will fund ecosystem management projects in the Farmington River Basin, including, but not limited to, river restoration, dam removal, fish habitat enhancement, sediment removal, and stream bank stabilization.

  • Make a contribution in the amount of $2 million to the Connecticut Statewide SEP Account to be used to address the water quality impacts caused by farmland application of surplus manure from dairy farms.

  • Make a contribution in the amount of $500,000 to the Connecticut Statewide SEP Account to procure or to develop and implement an electronic information management system for data required under the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

    The Connecticut DEP intends that this system will make monitoring data available to the public over the internet and will provide the Connecticut DEP with enhanced capabilities to monitor and assure compliance with permit terms and conditions.

  • Reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide below current levels by installing and operating a 5.4 megawatt modern gas turbine cogeneration-based combined heat and power facility by July 1, 2011.

    Hamilton Sundstrand will contribute a $2,400,000 grant payment that it will receive from the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control for constructing the Cogeneration Facility to the Connecticut Statewide SEP Account.

  • Eliminate all process wastewater discharges to the Farmington River, reduce groundwater remediation effluent discharges to the Farmington River, and improve its wastewater and reuse water collection and treatment facilities by installing and operating a Wastewater Treatment Facility Process Wastewater and Groundwater Reuse System, and expanding and reconfiguring its facilities for storing process wastewater, remediation groundwater, chromium process wastewater, and boiler and cooling tower waters; reconfiguring and relocating portions of its groundwater treatment systems; and modifying its WTF control room computer equipment.
These environmental upgrades and improvements are expected to cost Hamilton Sundstrand approximately $5,600,000. If the costs are less, Hamilton Sundstrand has agreed to pay the difference to the Connecticut Statewide SEP Account.

Hamilton Sundstrand has also agreed to submit regular progress reports to the Government and CT DEP and to institute a strict environmental compliance and training program. These include a regular certification by the president of Hamilton Sundstrand that the company is in compliance with the requirements of the Clean Water Act.

Stretching across 33 towns and 609 square miles, the Farmington River Watershed supplies water to Connecticut and Massachusetts. The watershed’s reservoirs and aquifers provide clean water to about one million people, about one-third of the Connecticut population.

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