12/11/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/11/2023 16:47
PORTLAND, Ore.-An Illinois-based company that operates an aluminum processing facility in The Dalles, Oregon, was ordered to pay a fine and restitution today for violating the Clean Air Act by negligently releasing a hazardous air pollutant from its facility.
Hydro Extrusion USA (Hydro), a limited liability corporation based in Rosemont, Illinois, was ordered to pay a criminal fine of $550,000 and more than $213,000 in restitution to an employee sickened by the hazardous release.
According to court documents, Hydro operates a secondary aluminum processing facility in The Dalles where it melts aluminum scrap in induction furnaces to produce reusable aluminum billets. While operating, air emissions from the company's furnaces were open to the interior of the building and did not pass through any pollution control devices before reaching employees or being vented to ambient air.
Under the Clean Air Act, secondary aluminum production facilities are only permitted to use "clean charge," aluminum scrap free of paints, coatings or lubricants. Despite this requirement, from July 2018 through June 2019, Hydro acquired and melted scrap aluminum coated in a mineral-oil based mixture that, when combusted, produced hazardous smoke. Hydro saved approximately $466,000 purchasing the unclean charge. During this time, Hydro employees noticed excessive smoke in the facility. Despite being notified by inspectors from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (Oregon DEQ), Hydro continued melting the unclean charge.
On August 23, 2022, after cooperating with the government's investigation and agreeing to plead guilty, Hydro was charged by federal criminal information with one count of negligent endangerment by discharging a hazardous pollutant. On January 24, 2023, the company pleaded guilty.
This case was investigated by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID) with assistance from Oregon DEQ. It was prosecuted by Ryan W. Bounds, Assistant U.S. Attorney, and Karla Perrin, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, for the District of Oregon.