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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department today announced that American Insulated Wire Corporation has agreed to a $2.4 million settlement to resolve claims that it violated three federal environmental laws. Under the agreement, the company will pay a $1.4 million penalty, spend $1 million on two supplemental environmental projects that will reduce air and water pollution, and ensure it complies with the laws the government alleged it violated. "This settlement will help ensure that the people who live in and around South Attleboro have cleaner, healthier air to breathe," said Lois J. Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. In a lawsuit filed with the settlement in U.S. District Court in Boston today, the government alleged that Rhode Island-based AIW violated air pollution, hazardous waste, and toxic substance reporting laws at its wire manufacturing plant in South Attleboro, Massachusetts, just across the border from Pawtucket. The government's lawsuit alleged that for more than twenty years AIW installed equipment that emitted volatile organic chemicals to the air without obtaining the permits required by Massachusetts regulations set in place under the federal Clean Air Act. Volatile organic compounds are a major contributor to smog. "The penalty sends a strong message that the federal government will not tolerate long-term, serious polluters," said John P. DeVillars, administrator of EPA's New England office. "The environmental projects AIW agreed in go beyond compliance and will improve New England's environment by reducing polluting air emissions more than the law requires, and will virtually eliminate AIW's wastewater discharges to the Blackstone River." The lawsuit also alleged that AIW violated the nation's main hazardous waste law, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. When EPA inspected AIW's plant they found poor hazardous waste storage practices. The complaint also alleged that AIW under-reported its shipments of toxic substances, violating the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. Today's settlement ensures that AIW will comply with these laws. Both DeVillars and Schiffer praised the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for helping develop the case. "We have better compliance with environmental laws when the federal government and the states work together," said Schiffer.

"Massachusetts DEP, especially the air pollution control program, did a great job of initially investigating this facility," said DeVillars. The two supplemental environmental projects the company will perform will reduce air and water pollution. Under the first project, AIW will retrofit the plant's two industrial boilers to burn only natural gas from May through September for two years. This will help reduce several airborne contaminants in the neighborhood around the plant during the summer months. EPA estimates that during the switch the boilers will reduce their sulfur dioxide emissions by almost 100 percent, particulate emissions by 83 percent, and nitrogen oxide by 62 percent. Under the second project, the plant will build a closed-loop wastewater recycling system that will completely eliminate its wastewater discharges into the Blackstone River. The proposed settlement is on file with the federal district court and will be published in the Federal Register for a 30-day public comment period. After the comment period ends, the government may ask the court to finalize the agreement. The case is United States of America v. American Insulated Wire Corporation, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, civil action number 98 CV 10993 NG. ###