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(WASHINGTON, D.C. - May 14, 2014) - Titanium Metals Corporation (TIMET), one of the world’s largest producers of titanium parts for jet engines and other industrial applications, has agreed to perform an extensive investigation and cleanup of potential contamination stemming primarily from the unauthorized manufacture and disposal of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) at its Black Mountain Industrial Complex manufacturing facility in Henderson, Nev., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Justice announced today.
- Overview of Settlement
- Company Background
- Actions Required by Settlement
- Pollutant Reductions
- Human Health and Environmental Concerns
- Comment Period
Overview of Settlement
In the proposed settlement, Titanium Metals Corporation (TIMET), one of the world’s largest producers of titanium parts for jet engines and other industrial applications, has agreed to perform an extensive investigation and cleanup of potential contamination stemming primarily from the unauthorized manufacture and disposal of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) at its manufacturing facility in Henderson, Nevada.
The company will also pay a $13.75 million civil penalty -- the largest penalty ever imposed for violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) at a single facility – and an additional $250,000 for illegal disposal of hazardous process wastewater, in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
TIMET processes titanium-containing rutile ore from Australia into high-quality titanium sponge at the facility (titanium sponge is the first commercial form of titanium created during the titanium manufacturing process). The company’s facility in Henderson, Nevada, one of the largest in the country, has been operating since the 1950s and is part of the larger Black Mountain Industrial Complex (BMI).
Headquartered near Philadelphia, PA, TIMET has been supplying nearly one-fifth of the world’s titanium demand since 1950. In December 2012, Precision Cast Parts Corporation, based in Portland, Oregon, acquired TIMET as a wholly-owned subsidiary.
The government complaint alleges that TIMET violated TSCA by manufacturing PCBs without authorization, and by illegally disposing of PCBs. EPA inspectors found that the company’s titanium manufacturing process generated PCBs as a byproduct that was disposed of with magnesium chloride dust, in violation of TSCA. The company also violated TSCA by disposing of the PCB-contaminated dust in its solid waste landfill and a trench outside of the plant’s magnesium recovery building.
The complaint also alleges that TIMET, a large quantity generator of hazardous waste, violated RCRA by treating, storing, and disposing of hazardous waste improperly and without a permit. On several occasions, TIMET used an unpermitted surface impoundment (HP-1) to dispose and treat corrosive process wastewater, which is classified as a hazardous waste under RCRA.
Actions Required by Settlement
The proposed settlement requires that TIMET fully investigate the manufacturing plant, under EPA’s oversight, for PCB contamination, and clean up any PCB and hazardous waste that they may find. Specific actions include:
- Perform a plant-wide investigation to determine the nature/extent of any contamination at the plant.
- Submit to EPA for EPA’s approval an investigation report and a cleanup plan.
- Remediate, as necessary, any contamination found.
- Submit a cleanup report for EPA’s approval, documenting that TIMET has taken all necessary actions required under the settlement.
- Document for EPA the process with which TIMET manufactures PCBs and the concentrations in which they are manufactured, certify to EPA that any PCBs manufactured are managed according to the TSCA regulations, and commit to update that report if the manufacturing process changes in the future.
- Biannually monitor and report to EPA for three years any PCB concentrations in the plant’s releases to air, water, and process wastes.
- Allow Nevada to publish on its publicly available website the EPA-approved version of all submitted work plans and reports.
All of this work will be subject to EPA’s approval and under EPA’s oversight, and in coordination with an ongoing investigation and cleanup under NDEP’s oversight. NDEP is overseeing extensive soil and groundwater remediation efforts at the BMI Complex by various responsible parties, including TIMET.
Through actions required by the settlement, EPA expects to remove approximately 84,000 pounds of PCB-contaminated waste from the environment each year, and to prevent the improper disposal of 56 million pounds of hazardous waste each year.
Human Health and Environmental Concerns
PCBs are human-made organic chemicals that were widely used in paints, construction materials, plastics, and electrical equipment prior to 1978. PCBs, which are probable carcinogens, have been banned in the United States for the last 30 years, except for specific uses authorized by regulations.
When released into the environment, PCBs can persist for decades because they do not break down through natural processes. Exposure to PCBs has been demonstrated to cause cancer, as well as a variety of other adverse health effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system.
The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court of Nevada, 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.