Unilever has plead guilty to two counts of violating the US Clean Water Act and will pay a $1 million fine under an agreement reached with the EPA and the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut (USAO).
The agreement stems from a Dec. 5, 2008 incident at Unilever’s former Clinton, Conn., manufacturing facility. It involved two non-managerial wastewater operators who bypassed portions of the facility’s wastewater treatment system. While Unilever voluntarily reported the bypass, the company did not notify the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection within two hours of becoming aware of the bypass, as required by the facility’s discharge permit.
Unilever closed its Clinton manufacturing facility in 2012 when it shifted production of personal care products to other, more efficient company facilities in the US.
The EPA’s investigation concluded that any bypass of partially treated wastewater that may have occurred at the facility prior to the 2008 incident was concealed from and unknown to Unilever’s management. Unilever says it is aware of no evidence that any release resulted in harm to fish, other wildlife or drinking water.
Unilever will also make a $3.5 million charitable donation to the Connecticut Statewide Supplemental Environmental Program.
Earlier this year the EPA proposed changing from paper to e-reporting in an attempt to modernize enforcement of the Clean Water Act, and plans to make companies’ data accessible to the public.