FREEPORT, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Gulf Chemical and Metallurgical Corp. (GCMC) announced today that the Travis County District Attorney has determined that GCMC has complied with all terms of its 2010 plea agreement related to several Texas Water Code violations at its Freeport plant, thus ending the 15-month investigation.
The Agreed Withdrawal of Waiver of Statute of Limitations filed by the Travis County District Attorney essentially ends all proceedings against GCMC related to allegations that the company violated wastewater discharge laws.
As part of the May 28, 2010 plea agreement, GCMC agreed to pay a fine of $2.75 million and pledged to continue upgrades to the plant’s wastewater treatment system to ensure full compliance with all environmental regulations and laws. GCMC was also asked to submit a report to the District Attorney within one year of the date of the agreement confirming that the work has been completed.
“This is a significant step forward for our company and our customers,” said Robert Stephan, GCMC’s executive vice president of operations. “Our new management team and all of our employees are working diligently to make wholesale improvements in virtually every area of our operations and we are committed to full regulatory compliance and responsible operations going forward, including our recent ISO 14001 certification.”
GCMC learned of the potential violations in September 2009 and immediately launched a third-party investigation and audit of the Freeport facility’s wastewater system. After the violations were identified, GCMC engaged two environmental consulting firms to design and implement changes to the plant’s wastewater system, and in December, voluntarily reported the violations to the TCEQ before learning of the district attorney’s investigation in February 2010.
The plant continued to operate on its regular schedule, 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout the improvement process. Shipments from refinery customers continued to be received and handled in compliance with applicable regulatory requirements and shipments of product to downstream metal customers proceeded as scheduled. Moreover, the issues associated with the investigation and the plea agreement never subjected GCMC’s suppliers or customers to any associated liability.
“We know this episode has caused some concern among our customers,” said Yves Jakubowicz, GCMC’s general manager of purchasing and procurement. “We’d like to thank them for their support during this time and we will continue to rebuild and earn their trust through responsible operations and quality service.”
GCMC has committed nearly $50 million over the next 22 months to making major environmental upgrades throughout its Freeport plant. Many of the improvements are already completed or are well under way. Upgrades include improving air pollution control equipment, wastewater treatment technology and processes, stormwater retention infrastructure and environmental monitoring systems. With the support of parent company, Eramet, GCMC has been able to accelerate the timetable of the improvements being made. The plant’s environmental improvements are to ensure GCMC’s operations remain compliant with all state and federal environmental laws well into the future.
About Gulf Chemical & Metallurgical Corporation
Gulf Chemical & Metallurgical Corporation, the world’s largest recycler of spent petroleum catalysts and a leading producer of ferroalloys, has been in business since 1946. The plant recovers molybdenum, vanadium, nickel, cobalt and various alumina products to be sold and reused in chemical and metallurgical applications. This reclaiming process reduces the need for mining, conserves natural resources and converts a waste material into a raw material. Its spent catalyst customers include every major refinery and its finished products are sold to all the major catalyst producers and steel manufacturers. Through its expertise, GCMC strives to strike a balance between industry and nature and is committed to sustainable development and product stewardship.
For more information on GCMC, its products and facilities, visit www.eramet-gulf.com.