About $500,000 of the $4.5 million in fines Unilever agreed to pay for the illegal discharge of industrial waste from its now-closed factory in Clinton, Connecticut will be used to fund water quality or ecosystem restoration in the lower Hammonasset River watershed.
Another $500,000 will be used to build a fishway at the Chapman Mill Pond in Clinton and $2.5 million will be directed to the Connecticut Institute for Resiliency and Climate Adaptation at the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus, which will conduct research, outreach and education projects related to the effects of rising sea levels, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut.
The health and beauty products maker’s US business, known as Conopco Inc., pleaded guilty in December 2013 in federal court to two felony violations of the Clean Water Act for failing to report an illegal discharge of industrial waste in a timely manner. Under an agreement reached with the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut and the EPA, Unilever said it would pay a $1 million fine and donate $3.5 million to the Connecticut Statewide Supplemental Environmental Program.
The penalty was related to a single incident in December 2008 at its former manufacturing facility in Clinton, Connecticut. The incident involved two non-managerial wastewater operators who bypassed portions of the facility’s wastewater treatment system. Unilever did not notify the Connecticut Department of Energy and EPA within two hours of becoming aware of the bypass, as required by the facility’s discharge permit.
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. At the time, Unilever said it’s aware of no evidence that any release resulted in harm to fish, other wildlife or drinking water.
Unilever closed its Clinton, CT, manufacturing facility in 2012 when it shifted production of personal care products to other, more efficient company facilities in the U.S.