Employees and visitors at a Louisiana manufacturing facility drank potentially contaminated drinking water for four years after deficiencies in the water system were identified, according to the EPA and the DOJ. The two federal agencies say they’ve reached a settlement with CertainTeed Corporation to resolve alleged violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) at the company’s Lake Charles Polymer Plant in Westlake, Louisiana. The $365,500 in civil penalties the company has agreed to pay is the largest civil penalty payment under the Safe Drinking Water Act by a public water system with respect to drinking water in the state of Louisiana.
An "excellent example"...that took four years
“This is an excellent example of EPA and Louisiana working together to ensure compliance with safe drinking water standards,” said EPA Region 6 Compliance Assurance and Enforcement Director Cheryl Seager. “We are committed to protecting the public health and will not hesitate to hold companies accountable who refuse to comply with the law.”
However, that commitment took a long time to yield results, during which time CertainTeed employees were exposed to drinking water which may have produced adverse health effects.
Failure to test for contaminants
The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) identified significant SDWA deficiencies during a sanitary survey of CertainTeed’s public water system located at the Westlake plant it conducted four years ago. These violations included, among other things, failure to provide approved and permitted drinking water at its facility for its employees and failure to monitor and test for contaminants that can result in adverse health effects. Despite numerous enforcement efforts by both EPA and the state of Louisiana, including letters from LDH, a joint inspection by LDH and EPA, and an EPA administrative order, CertainTeed took over four years to address the significant deficiencies identified in the survey.
As a result of state and federal enforcement efforts, CertainTeed has finally completed actions to correct the issues alleged in the Complaint and has achieved compliance with the SDWA and the rules to ensure the safety of drinking water served to its employees and facility visitors by public water providers like CertainTeed.
CertainTeed Corporation manufactures exterior and interior building products. CertainTeed Corporation’s Westlake, Louisiana facility manufactures polymer products, including vinyl siding.
For more information on the Safe Drinking Water Act: https://www.epa.gov/sdwa
For more information on the Safe Drinking Water Act’s Ground Water Rule: https://www.epa.gov/dwreginfo/ground-water-rule