Health, Safety and Environment

Mining Companies Pay US$6.8 Million for Injuries to Natural Resources

The United States (US) Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Department of the Interior (DoI) have jointly announced that “Freeport-McMoRan Corporation and Freeport-McMoRan Morenci Inc. (Freeport-McMoRan) have agreed to pay [US]$6.8 million to settle federal and state natural resource damages claims related to the Morenci copper mine in southeastern Arizona”. The complaint related to environmental damage from hazardous substances release at and from the Morenci Mine site. According to the complaint, the hazardous substance release, which included sulfuric acid and metals, injured, destroyed or led to the loss of “surface waters, terrestrial habitat and wildlife, and migratory birds”. The settlement comes just two months after another settlement with Freeport-McMoRan and its mining subsidiaries. In February 2012, the “federal district court in New Mexico approved a consent decree between the [US], the state of New Mexico and Freeport-McMoRan entities that resolved natural resource damages claims at three Freeport-McMoRan mining sites in southwestern New Mexico”.
Further information from the DoJ
Joint media release (24 April 2012)
(Source: DoJ; DoI)

Hess to Install Pollution Controls and Pay Fine for Clean Air Act Violations

The United States (US) Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that global energy company Hess Corporation (Hess) “has agreed to pay an [US]$850,000 civil penalty and spend more than [US]$45 million in new pollution controls to resolve Clean Air Act [CAA] violations at its Port Reading, N.J., refinery”. The pollution controls will greatly reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause breathing difficulties like asthma and environmental issues like smog. As well as the pollution controls, the settlement requires “more stringent emission limits, and aggressive monitoring, leak-detection and repair practices to reduce emissions from refinery equipment and processing units”. The US Government’s complaint against Hess “alleged that the company made modifications to its refinery that increased emissions without first obtaining pre-construction permits and installing required pollution control equipment”, which is a breach of the CAA.
Further information from the DoJ
Further information from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) #1
Further information from the EPA #2
(Source: DoJ; Government Printing Office; EPA)

Aerospace & Defence Co Arrives at US$37 Million Settlement for False Claims Product Substitution Case

The United States (US) Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that ATK Launch Systems Inc (ATK) “has agreed to a [US]$36,967,160 settlement with the [US] to resolve allegations that ATK sold dangerous and defective illumination flares to the Army and the Air Force”, following a lawsuit initially filed by an ATK whistleblower. According to the US Government, ATK knew, at the time of submitting claims for payment, that its flares could not withstand a 10-foot drop test “without exploding or igniting, as required by specifications”. According to the DoJ, “ATK has agreed to pay the [US]$21 million in cash and provide necessary in-kind services worth [US]$15,967,160 to fix the [US]$76,000 unsafe para-flares remaining in the government’s inventory”.
DoJ’s media release (23 April 2012)
(Source: DoJ)

Intel America’s Top Green-powered Organisation

UPI reports that computer-chip maker Intel has again ranked number one on the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list (updated 5 April 2012) of the top 50 “green-powered” organisations using clean and renewable electricity. Intel has topped the list since 2008, annually using “more than 2.5 billion [kilowatt hours] of green power”.
UPI: Intel tops list of ‘green power’ users (23 April 2012)
(Source: UPI; EPA)

News Corporation Announces New Fuel Cell to Power Studio Operations

News Corporation has announced that a new fuel cell, called “Purecell”, will power its headquarters in New York. “Purecell” will run on natural gas, using a chemical process which produces heat energy as a by-product, in turn supplying the building with hot water, at times chilled water and, in the event of a blackout, giving the building security of power. “Purecell” is expected to produce enough electricity to power 400 average homes. The carbon saved would be the equivalent of taking 100 cars off the road or planting several hundred trees.
News Corporation’s media release (20 April 2012)
(Source: News Corporation)