Unilever’s U.S. business (“Unilever”) today announced it has entered into an agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut (USAO) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) related to a single incident on December 5, 2008 at its former Clinton, CT, manufacturing facility. The incident involved two non-managerial wastewater operators who bypassed portions of the facility’s wastewater treatment system. While Unilever voluntarily reported the bypass, Unilever did not notify the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection within two hours of becoming aware of the bypass, as required by the facility’s discharge permit. Under the terms of the agreement, Unilever has agreed to plead guilty to two counts of violating the U.S. Clean Water Act and will pay a $1 million fine. Unilever closed its Clinton, CT, manufacturing facility in 2012 when it shifted production of personal care products to other, more efficient company facilities in the U.S.
The EPA’s investigation into the incident established that any bypass of partially treated wastewater that may have occurred at the facility prior to the incident on December 5, 2008 was concealed from and unknown to Unilever’s management. Unilever is aware of no evidence that any release resulted in harm to fish, other wildlife or drinking water.
In connection with this agreement and consistent with Unilever’s ongoing commitment to being a responsible community partner, Unilever will make a $3.5 million charitable donation to the Connecticut Statewide Supplemental Environmental Program. The donation will be used to:
- Establish the Connecticut Resiliency and Climate Adaptation Center, which will conduct research, outreach and education projects to guide the development of technologies and regulatory provisions that increase the protection of ecosystems and coastal properties that are subject to the effects of rising sea; and
- Fund various environmentally beneficial projects proposed by the Town of Clinton, CT, and approved by the Connecticut Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection to restore and maintain local waters or otherwise promote sustainable development.
“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, Vice President, Supply Chain, Unilever North America. “We are pleased to contribute to important local projects that will benefit the environment.”