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3M agrees to pay EPA $1.5M in chemical case

Apr 26, 2006 | Austin Business Journa 3M Co. agreed Tuesday to pay a $1.5 million penalty to the Environmental Protection Agency for 244 violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act, for using unsafe chemicals in its products, according to media reports.

Those substances were used in consumer products, such as Scotchgard and Teflon. The Maplewood-based company neither admitted nor denied any wrongdoing.

The EPA, which did not specify when and where the violations happened, accused 3M of failing to notify the agency about new chemicals and of late reporting of "substantial risk information."

The fine is large by EPA standards, although it is considered small for a large corporate company like 3M.

Jackie Berry, a 3M spokeswoman, said the company voluntarily disclosed all information to the EPA after a series of internal audits of its toxic substances began in the late 1990s.

The EPA began its review of the company in 2000.

"EPA takes violations of toxic substances laws seriously and is committed to enforcing those laws," said Granta Nakayama, assistant administrator for the agency's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

He said the action was a "reminder of the importance of timely industry reporting" to the EPA of significant risk information.

Along with paying the fine, 3M agreed to review the management of 28 business units and processes. The company plans to establish the compliance status of all chemicals regulated by the toxic substances act, which Berry said is already completed.

3M began phasing out the alleged toxic chemical PFOA, used in Teflon, and PFOS, used in Scotchgard, in 2000. The substances were found in the blood of workers and in lab animals. The company has always maintained that the chemicals are not harmful to humans.

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