Nucor Corporation Inc. will spend nearly $100 million to settle an environmental suit alleging that it failed to control the amount of pollution released from its steel factories in seven states, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The agreement reached with DOJ on behalf of EPA is the largest and most comprehensive environmental settlement ever with a steel manufacturer.
The settlement requires Nucor to undertake broad environmental improvements at its 14 facilities in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
The Charlotte, N.C.-based company will also pay $9 million in civil penalties and spend another $4 million on continued emissions monitoring of hazardous pollutants and environmental projects to benefit the communities where the factories are located.
"This action sends a signal once again that the Clinton Administration will ensure that our environmental laws are properly enforced," said EPA Administrator Carol Browner.
The agreement covers eight Nucor "mini-mills," which produce steel by melting scrap metal in large electric arc furnaces, and six steel fabrication plants, where the final molding and painting of steel products occurs.
According to the allegations filed, Nucor violated environmental standard regulating the release of pollutants in the air, water and soil.
The complaint alleges that Nucor''s failure to control air pollution resulted in thousands of tons of illegal air emissions each year.
EPA also said that Nucor mismanaged K061 dust, a hazardous waste produced by its steel furnaces.
The dust, which contains lead and cadmium, was disposed of improperly at Nucor factories, where it contaminated soil and groundwater. The dust was also illegally discharged through wastewater and storm water.
"This settlement will improve air quality for thousands of people who live around these factories," said Lois Schiffer, assistant attorney general in charge of the Environmental Division at DOJ. "Under this agreement, Nucor will lead the industry by installing an estimated $85 million worth of state-of-the-art pollution controls."
The settlement has the potential for a reduction of an estimated 6,400 tons of nitrogen oxide and 3,000 tons of volatile organic compounds over eight years.
by Virginia Sutcliffe