PHILADELPHIA -- The federal government said Wednesday it had fined pharmaceuticals maker Pfizer Inc. a record $3.1 million for violating the Clean Water Act at its former plant in Easton, Pa.
The Environmental Protection Agency said New York-based Pfizer, in a consent decree filed with the U.S. District Court of Eastern Pennsylvania, agreed to the fine for dumping untreated industrial wastes into the Easton Area Joint Sewer Authority's wastewater treatment plant over a six-year period.
Under federal law, industrial pollutants must be pretreated before entering a municipal waste facility.
The wastes came from Pfizer's synthetic iron oxide plant, which is now owned by Harcros Pigments, Inc.
U.S. Attorney Michael Baylson said the fine 'recovers the money Pfizer saved by not installing the necessary pollution control equipment and also includes a penalty meant to deter future violations by Pfizer and others.'
The fine exceeded the $2.3 million penalty imposed on BP Oil for dumping wastes from its Marcus Hook refinery into the Delaware. The city of Philadelphia also was fined $1.5 million for water pollution violations involving the Delaware River.
According to the EPA, Pfizer's untreated discharges were responsible for the failure of the Easton sewage treatment facility, and that led to minimally treated and untreated industrial and domestic wastes being dumped in the Delaware River for a number of years.
Easton is about 65 miles up river from Philadelphia.
The EPA said the wastewater authority, Easton and Harcros Pigment are also involved in an ongoing federal lawsuit.