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Timet to pay record toxic dumping fine

Keywords: Tags  titanium, sponge, Titanium Metals, Timet, Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs Toxic Substances Control Act

LOS ANGELES — Titanium Metals Corp. (Timet) will pay a $13.75-million fine as part of a deal with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stemming mainly from the alleged unauthorized production and disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at its Henderson, Nev., sponge plant.

The agency said the penalty is the largest ever imposed on a single facility for violations of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act.

Exton, Pa.-based Timet, a subsidiary of Portland, Ore.-based Precision Castparts Corp. (PCC), will pay an additional $250,000 for alleged violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act related to the disposal of hazardous process wastewater, according to the EPA.

The settlement also requires Timet to conduct an "extensive investigation and cleanup" of potential PCB contamination at the Henderson facility, the EPA said.

"This settlement holds Timet fully accountable for the period of its unauthorized manufacture and handling of harmful PCBs at the Henderson facility," Robert G. Dreher, acting assistant attorney general for the EPA’s environment and natural resources division, said in a statement.

News of the settlement and required cleanup work raised questions among some Timet customers whether it could disrupt Henderson’s sponge output. But Timet’s parent "does not expect the agreement to impact the facility’s production levels," a PCC spokesman told AMM in an e-mail.

Timet has already spent about $6 million on an investigation, cleanup and compliance to address the potential contamination, the EPA said, and the company expects to spend "at least" another $1 million to complete the work required by the settlement.

Timet is one of only two significant U.S. producers of titanium sponge, with an estimated annual capacity of 27.8 million pounds per year. The other major domestic sponge plant is Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Technologies Inc.’s (ATI’s) Rowley, Utah, sponge plant, which has an annual capacity of 24 million pounds. Henderson’s output is the only domestic sponge qualified for rotor-quality titanium for aircraft engines, although ATI is working to qualify Rowley for this application.

PCC, which purchased Timet for $2.9 billion in late 2012, emphasized that all the violations involved in the consent decree occurred prior to its acquisition of the company.

Inspections conducted at the Henderson facility in 2005, 2006 and 2008 revealed that Timet was "unlawfully manufacturing" PCBs as a byproduct of its sponge-making process, the EPA said. The agency said the 2008 inspection also revealed Timet disposed of PCB-contaminated waste in a landfill and trench at the plant, while it disposed of "acidic, corrosive hazardous process wastewater" in 2005 and 2007.

Timet makes sponge in Henderson from rutile feedstock, according to the EPA.

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