Schneider Electric has been hit with a $6.8 million penalty for alleged environmental violations — the largest-ever stipulated penalty for cleanup of a Superfund site and the third-largest overall in EPA history.
The EPA says Schneider Electric violated the terms of a 2002 court-approved Superfund consent decree during its cleanup at the Rodale Manufacturing Superfund site located in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, resulting in emissions of hazardous air pollutants.
“We will not tolerate violation of our consent decrees, especially where those violations can result in risks to public health, welfare, and the environment,” said EPA regional administrator Shawn M. Garvin in announcing the penalty.
As part of the settlement, Schneider Electric has neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations. But the energy management company’s attorney did provide Environmental Leader with a statement from an unnamed Schneider Electric spokesperson.
“Schneider Electric takes seriously its responsibility to remediate the Rodale Manufacturing Site and has worked in good faith with the government to continue to protect public health and the environment,” the statement said. “Schneider Electric regrets this matter and has worked with the EPA and Pa. DEP to implement several rigorous measures to improve our oversight at Rodale.
“Schneider Electric has a long and proud history of environmental stewardship and environmental sustainability here in the United States, and across the world. We set high standards for ourselves, and have applied lessons from this matter as part of our commitment to continuous improvement. We remain fully and firmly committed to our communities, our customers, our stakeholders, and our employees and to achieving our goal for global environmental leadership.”
The penalty stems from pollution at the Rodale Manufacturing site, which was added to the Superfund list of the nation’s most contaminated sites and began cleanup activities in 1991.
This site has a long history of electrical component manufacturing, starting in the 1930s by Rodale Manufacturing Company and continuing when a subsidiary of Square D Company purchased the facility in 1975. Schneider purchased the Square D Company and currently produces electrical distribution equipment including circuit breakers, switches and infrared measurement devices.
The Superfund consent decree to remove groundwater contamination at the site requires a groundwater pump and treat system, groundwater monitoring, and air pollution controls to prevent emissions during the cleanup operations.
The Schneider Electric penalty follows a series of EPA investigations that have forced manufacturers to pay to clean up polluted water or air at Superfund sites.