FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 1997

DOJ EPA EPA TDD

(202) (787) (212) (202)

ENR 514-2008 729-6951 637-3669 514-1888

WARNER-LAMBERT PLEADS GUILTY TO ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMES WILL PAY $3.6 MILLION IN PENALTIES WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Pharmaceutical manufacturer Warner-Lambert Inc. today pled guilty and will pay a $3 million criminal fine for falsifying reports on the levels of pollutants it was releasing into a drainage channel that feeds the Cibuco River from its wastewater treatment plant in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. The company also will pay a $670,000 civil penalty for routinely releasing excessive levels of pollutants between 1992 and 1995, violating its wastewater discharge permit 347 times. The plant supervisor, Juan Ruiz Orengo, also pled guilty today to similar charges. Warner-Lambert Inc. was charged in U.S. District Court in Hato Rey with six counts of violating the federal Clean Water Act. The Act requires the plant to comply with discharge limits on the amounts of pollutants that may be released in the plant's wastewater. "We will not tolerate this kind of reckless disregard for the waters of our nation's states and commonwealths," said Lois Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "Environmental criminals must be punished because the people and the environment of Puerto Rico deserve better." "Polluting and lying about it are serious offenses. EPA will continue to use all of its tools--including criminal prosecution-to aggressively pursue those who pollute our water and endanger public health and the environment," said Steven A. Herman, Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Warner-Lambert blatantly violated federal law, but the good news is that facility is now in compliance and seems to have changed its corporate attitude towards environmental law," said Jeanne M. Fox, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 Administrator. "With today's guilty pleas and the filing of the consent agreement, the people of Puerto Rico can rest assured that the company is paying for what it did and will not let something like this happen again. There's a strong message here for any other facilities that might feel that they can pollute our waters with impunity."

United States Attorney Guillermo Gil stated: "This case is another example of the priority given to environmental cases by our Office. Any company or individual that threatens our environment will be dealt with severely." Ruiz was responsible for collecting and analyzing wastewater samples for 34 different pollutants including fecal coliform, metals, oil and grease. Ruiz routinely falsified reports to show that pollution limits for several pollutants had not been exceeded, when in fact they had. Between January 1990 through the end of 1992, every report contained false information about the quality of the water the Warner-Lambert plant was releasing into the drainage channel. Ruiz could be sentenced to up to 27 months in jail. The civil settlement also was filed today by the United States Department of Justice in U.S. District Court in Hato Rey on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency. The case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. ### 97-396