DuPont fined for poisoning Delaware River; what was hurt?

UPDATE: How much damage did DuPont's Edge Moor discharges actually do to the Delaware River and plants, wildlife, and humans living along the waterway?

DuPont spokesman Rick Straitman: "To the best of our understanding, neither  the State, EPA or any other organization has identified or correlated any specific impact on plants or animals to the alleged permit violations.  

"Please understand that we are certainly not minimizing the seriousness with which we take these issues. The overall health of the River depends on all dischargers maintaining compliance with their permits even if an individual set of alleged violations causes no apparent environmental harm."

EPA spokesman David Sternberg: "EPA did not conduct, or refer to, any water-quality or environmental studies in this particular case that would quantify any 'actual damage to wildlife, humans, [or] water quality' that may have been caused by the permit violations cited.
"However, EPA's  assumptions about any actual or potential adverse effects to water-quality or the aquatic environment were based on the levels and frequency" with which DuPont violated discharge limits it had promised the government.   

Those limits are designed to allow "the maximum level of pollutant that could be released by a facility without harming the designated use of the water body receiving the discharges.  Therefore, the  permit limits and requirements, represent limits that, if exceeded, have the potential to cause environmental/water-quality harm." 

EARLIER: DuPont Co. has agreed to pay $500,000 to settle state and federal accusations the company polluted the Delaware River with toxic industrial chemicals "numerous" times in the past six years.

The U.S. EPA, Delaware's environmental agency, and state and federal prosecutors joined in a consent decree to curb illegal chemical discharges at DuPont's Edge Moor works next to Fox Point State Park just north of Wilmington, which processes titanium dioxide, used in auto paints, printing and other industries. Statement here.

DuPont let hydrogen chloride, titanium tetrachloride, iron chloride, titainum ore and overflow wastewater treatment chemicals into the Delaware, the government said. The company violated permit limits on discharging suspended solids, acids, iron, foam, contaminated storm water and other pollution.

In a statement, DuPont spokesman Rick Straitman said DuPont had "self-reported" the data that led to the government accusations, and added that the company has spent $14 million upgrading the plant to improve discharge, and will spend more.

The fine and settlement comes as DuPont, which earned $3 billion in profits last year, is weighing whether to expand the Edge Moor plant or rival works in the southern U.S. and Asia. CEO Ellen Kullman has met with President Obama, urging less cumbersome regulations and lower taxes to make it more attractive for her company to site more factories and jobs in the U.S. The company also says it is committed to clean water and to obeying the law.

The government says DuPont Edge Moor illegally discharged pollutants into the Delaware for the past six years, violating the state and federal Clean Water Acts. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control hit DuPont with a violation for dumping more than its permit allowed in 2008 for "numerous effluent discharges" and other violations, leading to today's settlement, the agencies said in a statement.

Besides the fine, DuPont has agreed to set up a plan by 2013 to reduce wastewater violations subject to EPA and state approval, and submit to EPA review of its stormwater pollution records.