A Pittsburgh-based chemical and materials company has agreed to pay nearly $1 million for failing to follow state and federal laws for preventing and responding to oil spills, under a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The proposed agreement, announced last week, addresses more than 30 violations at Koppers Inc. facilities in Follansbee and Green Spring, West Virginia, and Clairton, Pennsylvania.
Federal rules, including the Clean Water Act’s Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure and Facility Response Plan, require companies create, submit and keep up to date plans for mitigating the impacts of possible oil spills. A complaint filed in federal court said Koppers failed to prepare for the possibility of millions of gallons of oil flowing into nearby rivers.
The EPA said Koppers also failed to properly inspect tanks and other infrastructure in violation of state storage tank laws in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
More than 12 million gallons of oil was able to be stored at Koppers’ Clairton facility, located 1,000 feet from the Monongahela River. The facility was shuttered in 2016, and sold in 2018.
Dozens of tanks at the Follensbee plant, in West Virginia’s northern Panhandle, have the capacity to store more than 20 million gallons of oil. The plant is located about 150 feet from the Ohio River, a drinking water source for 5 million people. Koppers plans on closing the plant by the end of the year.
The complaint notes the most egregious violations occurred at the Follensbee facility, including “deficiencies in the facility’s secondary containment for spills, and inadequate structural integrity inspection and testing of aboveground tanks,” according to an EPA press release.
This most recent infraction is not the first time Koppers has been in trouble with the EPA for its Follensbee facility, located in Brooke County. In 2015, the company and agency reached a similar settlement agreement related to the facility’s oil tanks.
Under the proposed settlement, the company did not admit to the violations, but will take steps to come into compliance. Koppers will also pay $800,000 to the United States, $175,000 to West Virginia and $24,500 to Pennsylvania.
The public has 30 days to comment on the agreement.