A federal judge has approved a settlement between the Justice Department and a chemical company in Kershaw County that requires the company to pay a half-million dollar fine over environmental violations.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says WeylChem U.S. agreed to a consent order that would have the company pay $500,000 for illegal chemical discharges made by a separate business which used to operate the Elgin facility that the German chemical manufacturer now owns. The decree ends several years of negotiations between the company and the feds.
“This agreement will result in better management practices that will ultimately lead to greater protection of public health and the environment for the citizens of South Carolina,” Regional Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency Gwen Keyes Fleming said in a statement.
The order says the operation illegally discharged as many as 10 different chemicals into the Wateree River above the allowable limits. That included benzene, chlorine, and methanol, among others. WeylChem U.S.’s business manager Bryon Leggett wished to make it clear that the violations occurred under the plant’s previous owner. Several companies have run the site since it was built 46 years ago.
The company also agreed to no longer truck chemical waste to its treatment facility in the nearby town of Lugoff. U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina Bill Nettles said that means there is less likelihood of a chemical spill during travel, as more than 30 trucks make the trip each day.
The facility has already finished a project to reduce its air emissions by improving its air pollution control equipment, the Attorney’s Office said. The settlement also requires WeylChem to make several corrective actions, including an enhanced leak testing and repair regime based on the results of a third-party audit. WeylChem will also test its waste tanks and basins, and sample wastewater and sediment at the Elgin facility, and, if the tests show that tanks or basins are leaking, will make necessary repairs and address potential impacts to the environment. WeylChem has also agreed to investigate possible soil or groundwater contamination at the Lugoff site and develop a cleanup plan if any contamination is discovered.