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Record $14M Fine For Titanium Waste Dumping

Thu, 05/15/2014 - 10:25am
MICHELLE RINDELS, Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A company that manufactures titanium jet parts faces a record $14 million fine for illegally making and disposing of a cancer-causing chemical in Henderson, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday.

The fine against Titanium Metals Corporation, or TIMET, is the largest ever imposed at a single facility for violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act. The Pennsylvania-based company must also clean up the site.

"This record penalty reflects EPA's commitment to protect communities by reducing pollution from the mineralsector," EPA enforcement official Cynthia Giles said in a statement. "Today's settlement ensures TIMET complies with the law and takes important steps to build transparency in the investigation and remediation of this facility."

TIMET officials didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment Wednesday.

Government officials said they discovered during inspections in the mid-2000s that TIMET had been illegally producing polychlorinated biphenyl as a byproduct of its titanium manufacturing. The company had disposed of contaminated waste in a landfill and in a trench at its plant in the Black Mountain Industrial Complex.

The byproduct, which was used in paints, plastics and electrical equipment before 1978, has been shown to cause cancer and other health problems and has been illegal in the United States for the last 30 years.

The fine against the company is the latest large penalty for contamination in Henderson, which houses a number of chemical manufacturing plants. EPA officials announced last month that they won $1.1 billion from the Anadarko oil company to clean up a rocket fuel chemical that seeped into groundwater and Lake Mead.

TIMET supplies nearly 20 percent of the world's titanium demand. Its Henderson plant has been operating since 1950 and is one of the largest industrial sites in Nevada.

The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.

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