Gulf Chemical & Metallurgical Corporation (GCMC) today announced it has pled guilty to 11 felony violations at its catalyst recycling facility in Freeport, TX, according to a company press release. The plea is the result of an agreement with the Travis County District Attorney, resolving the district attorney’s and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) criminal investigation into the past operation of the company’s wastewater treatment system.
State and local officials had executed a search warrant in February looking for evidence of a chemical leak that could be affecting water quality. The company was accused of keeping two sets of books detailing its releases into the water supply at its catalyst recycling site after a tip by a whistle blower. The employee accused the company of keeping spreadsheets indicating the company would increase discharge flow on days when sampling was not occurring in order to get around environmental regulations.
GCMC has agreed to plead guilty to 11 felony violations of the Texas Water Code dating from June 2007 through January 2008 and to pay a fine of $2.75 million. GCMC also agreed to upgrade the plant’s wastewater treatment system by implementing additional modifications (including design, operation and maintenance) recommended by a third party engineering consultant during GCMC’s internal investigation of the situation.
A criminal investigation against an individual employee at the plant is still possible.