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Unilever fined $1m over industrial pollution in Connecticut

By Simon Pitman+

09-Dec-2013

Unilever’s U.S. division has confirmed an agreement with United States government authorities that will see the company pay a $1 million fine for pollution relating its now closed Clinton, Connecticut personal care production facility.

On top of the fine, the company has also agreed to make a $3.5m charitable donation to the Connecticut Statewide Supplemental Environmental Progam, which will be used to fund environmental research and education, as well as a number of sustainability projects.

"We have worked closely and collaboratively with the state and federal regulators throughout this process to fully address their concerns,” said Reginaldo Ecclissato, Vice President, Supply Chain, Unilever North America.

Fine relates to a leak that occurred five years ago

The agreement on the fine was forged between Unilever US and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut (USAO) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), relating to an incidence back on December 5, 2008, when wastewater was leaked from the facility.

According to Unilever, the incident occurred when two non-managerial wastewater operators bypassed portions of the facility’s wastewater treatment system.

The authorities say that the company defied protocol by not informing the EPA or the USAO of the leak within two hours of it occurring, although the company does state the bypass was voluntarily reported.

Agreement will also lead to inspection of all Unilever US facilities

As part of the agreement, Unilever has also agreed to third party environmental inspections of its manufacturing facilities in the U.S. that will see full reports issued to the U.S. government at least during the course of the next three year period.

Unilever announced that it was closing the Clinton facility back in July 2011, and the shutdown was complete by the end of 2012, a move that affected almost 200 staff employed at the facility.

The facility manufactured vaseline Petroleum Jelly; Pond’s and Dove face care; Axe, Dove and Suave hair styling products; Dove lotion, shampoo and conditioner; as well as related trial and travel products, hair and skin tube products.

Production was wound down in several phases, with manufacturing transferred to a number of other facilities throughout the United States.

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