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Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) agreed to reduce the output of ozone-depleting refrigerants at several industrial facilities around the country to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act. The company's modifications will cost approximately $3.65 million.
New York (July 8)-Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) agreed to reduce the output of ozone-depleting refrigerants at several industrial facilities around the country to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act. The company’s modifications will cost approximately $3.65 million.
According to the terms of an agreement filed in federal court in Evansville, Indiana, BMS will retire or retrofit 17 industrial refrigeration units by July 2009 at facilities in Mt. Vernon and Evansville, Indiana; Hopewell, New Jersey; and Humacao and Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The units are used in the facilities’ industrial process or as air conditioners and currently use hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) as refrigerants.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), when leaked into the air, HCFCs deplete ozone in the earth’s stratosphere. Ozone protects the earth from cancer-causing ultraviolet (UV) rays. Excessive UV exposure is linked to increased incidents of cataracts and poses risks to human immune systems and plant and animal life. BMS will modify the 17 units to use only refrigerants that do not deplete stratospheric ozone.
The company also agreed to perform a supplemental environment project that includes retiring two cooling units at its New Brunswick, New Jersey, plant and connecting the air conditioners to the company’s new centralized refrigeration system. The new system uses water-chilled coolers as refrigerants and thus minimizes the use of chemical agents in the chilling process.
BMS’s projects will remove more than 6350 lb. of HCFCs from the company’s operations. In addition, the company will work to ensure compliance with EPA regulations at 13 of its facilities and pay $127,000 in civil penalties.
After EPA requested information to confirm that BMS’s Evansville facility complied with ozone-depletion regulations, BMS voluntarily conducted an audit of 25 other facilities and reported all potential violations. The audit uncovered potential violations at 13 facilities in six states-Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York-and in Puerto Rico.
The proposed consent decree, lodged in the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, is subject to a 30-day public-comment period and federal court approval. If the court approves the settlement, BMS must pay the penalty within 30 days.
For a related story, see “Pfizer to Pay Fine for PharmaMACT Violations” in the July 10, 2008 ePT.