Unilever to pay $4.5M for water act violations

Unilver to pay $4.5M for violating federal water act at Conn. manufacturing plant

Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Unilever has agreed to pay $4.5 million after pleading guilty to two felony environmental violations at its former health and beauty products manufacturing plant in Clinton.

Unilever Home and Personal Care USA pleaded guilty Thursday to violations of the Clean Water Act, the U.S. attorney's office said. Authorities say the charges stem from Unilever's December 2008 illegal discharge of industrial wastewater and the company's failure to report the discharge in a timely manner.

As part of its plea agreement, Unilever agreed to pay a $1 million fine and intends to contribute $3.5 million to state and local environmental programs. The payment includes $2.5 million to fund the Connecticut Resiliency and Climate Adaption Center, which will conduct research, outreach and education projects related to the effects of rising sea levels.

"The environmental integrity of Connecticut's rivers and the Long Island Sound are of essential importance to our state," said acting U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly. "As this case demonstrates, our office will vigorously prosecute companies whose actions threaten Connecticut's natural resources. "

Unilever says it's not aware of any evidence that any release resulted in harm to fish, other wildlife or drinking water.

"Unilever is recognized for its commitment to sustainability, including sound environmental, health and safety practices. We have worked closely and collaboratively with the state and federal regulators throughout this process to fully address their concerns," said Reginaldo Ecclissato, a Unilever executive.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 3.

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