The cost of “clean”: an environmental round-up…

August 13, 2010

When companies pay to remediate environmental problems, it’s a long and costly process. Several companies— recent filings included updates about environmental issues (other than Deepwater, which we—ll continue to write about separately); here are some of the more notable ones:

Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM) recently settled two environmental cases, according to its 10-Q. In the first matter, Exxon signed a Consent decree on July 27 with the EPA and the DOJ to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. At issue were air quality rules and the company’s storage tanks and loading racks at terminals in Guam and Saipan. Exxon agreed to pay a settlement of $2.4 million and correct the problems.

The second settlement is with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and its Attorney General. It resolved alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at the Everett and Springfield terminals that occurred over 8 years. Exxon paid a penalty of $2.9 million, another $200,000 to support an environmental project, and agreed to take corrective actions.

Calgon Carbon Corporation (CCC) has a number of environmental matters pending, but it disclosed something new in its 10-Q. The DOJ’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division notified the company that it is —prepared to take appropriate enforcement action for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act. On July 9, Calgon Carbon met with the DOJ and agreed to let the agency do —more comprehensive testing of the lagoons [to check for hazardous waste] and to share data and analysis already obtained. The company noted that it cannot predict the probable outcome of the case or how much it may have to spend to resolve it.

Armstrong World Industries, Inc.’s (AWI) 10-Q disclosed that resolving two current environmental problems may be costly. Based on a January, 2010 request by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the EPA evaluated company facilities in St. Helens, Oregon to determine whether it should be added to a national list of sites known to have (or likely to release) contaminants, hazardous substances, or pollutants. AWI and two prior owners of the site (Kaiser Gypsum Company and Owens Corning) are discussing how to allocate the clean-up costs. Meanwhile, in Georgia, the EPA determined that AWI’s Macon facility, together with some surrounding property, is contaminated with substances including PCBs. AWI is negotiating possible resolutions and remedies with the EPA.

The company’s Q noted that it’s incurring investigation, engineering, and legal costs for both sites. Then it stated: ——we are not currently able to estimate with reasonable certainty the amounts we may ultimately incur with respect to these Sites, although such amounts may be material.

Sensient Technologies Corporation (SXT) estimated in its 10-Q that its total liabilities to settle current environmental problems at a Superfund site in Camden, New Jersey, as well as claims that involve an adjacent property range between $7.6 million and $10.8 million. It adds that the range is —management’s best estimate and the actual number could vary.

And finally, Foster Wheeler Ltd. (FWLT) disclosed in its 10-Q that a project subsidiary received an Administrative Order of Revocation and Notice of Civil Administrative Penalty Assessment from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) in June, 2010. The agency alleged that back in March, the subsidiary failed a —stack testing and exceeded its particulate emission limit. A summer retest showed that the particulates were —well below [the] permit limit. The agency agreed to stay a decision on revoking the subsidiary’s permit until October 15, but ——there can be no assurance that NJDEP will agree to rescind the revocation, and management cannot predict what impact the foregoing might have on [the subsidiary].

Image source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via flickr

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