A.G. Schneiderman And DEC Commissioner Seggos Announce $1.25 Million Settlement With Momentive Performance Materials For Violating Federal And State Environmental Laws

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

May 4, 2017

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Waterford-Based Momentive Performance Materials Used Computer Program To Skirt Waste Cut-Off System And Violate Hazardous Waste And Air Pollution Laws; Will Pay $1.25 Million In Penalties 

Schneiderman And Seggos: We Will Continue To Strictly Enforce Laws Aimed At Protecting The Health And Safety Of New Yorkers And Our Environment 

ALBANY – Momentive Performance Materials Silicones, LLC (“MPM”)  has agreed to pay a $1.25 million civil penalty to resolve a complaint alleging violations of federal and state environmental laws in connection with MPM’s use of an incinerator at its manufacturing facility in Waterford, NY, announced the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), the New York State Attorney General’s Office, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”).  The settlement was finalized today in the United States District Court in Albany. 

“Our laws provide essential protections to New Yorkers' health, safety, and environment,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “MPM flouted clean air and hazardous waste laws at its Waterford facility and, as a result, released harmful, toxic chemical into the surrounding community thousands of times.  We won't hesitate to act to protect New Yorkers and bring to justice anyone who violates the law."

The civil complaint alleges that MPM purchased a manufacturing facility in Waterford, New York in 2006 from the General Electric Company, and continues to operate it to this day. MPM manufactures various products at the facility, including sealants made of silicone. The silicone manufacturing process generates hazardous waste. MPM sought and received permits from DEC to treat and dispose of the hazardous waste, subject to compliance with the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).  MPM treated and disposed of hazardous waste by burning it in a rotary kiln incinerator that included an automatic waste feed cut-off system designed to shut down the incinerator if MPM deviated from operating parameters in its CAA and RCRA permits.  The automatic cut-off system was specifically designed to ensure compliance with environmental laws. Unbeknownst to federal and state authorities, MPM manually overrode the incinerator’s automatic waste feed cut-off system, allowing MPM to continue to burn excessive amounts of hazardous waste in the incinerator in violation of its CAA and RCRA permits.

On numerous occasions during the period of December 4, until December 31, 2008, MPM employees manually overrode the automatic waste feed cut-off system, thereby releasing various harmful hazardous air pollutants from the facility and into the community.

“Violations of New York State’s environmental laws and regulations are serious offenses with serious consequences,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “This fine is the result of the collaborative efforts of state and federal partners working together to protect our communities. New York State has zero tolerance for anyone who rigs the system to break environmental laws that protect public health and the environment. I commend DEC Environmental Conservation Officers Major Scott Florence and Investigator Karen Staniewski who led this effort to hold these polluters accountable, as well as DEC engineers Thomas Killeen and James Coutant who provided invaluable technical oversight.”

In 2015, Attorney Schneiderman, DEC, EPA, and DOJ entered into a settlement with General Electric for similar clean air and hazardous waste violations during the company’s ownership of the facility before selling it to MPM in December 2006. MPM continued operating the facility in a similar manner.  

Attorney General Schneiderman thanks the DEC, EPA, and the lawyers for the United States for their diligent work on this investigation.

Scott Crisafulli, Deputy Counsel, DEC Office of the General Counsel, Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas Spina Jr. and Adam J. Katz, Northern District of New York, Gary Nurkin, Assistant Regional Counsel EPA Region 2, and Myles Flint, Senior Counsel, DOJ Environmental Enforcement Section, all assisted in this case.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Maureen F. Leary, James C. Woods, and Andrew J. Gershon of the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Lemuel Srolovic.  The Environmental Protection Bureau is part of the Division of Social Justice, which is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg.