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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
8/7/02
02/65

Contact: Amy Cradic
(609) 984-1795

NJ DEP REACHES SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT WITH PFIZER
FOR WASTEWATER MONITORING VIOLATIONS

(02/65) TRENTON - New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced that Pfizer, Inc., Morris County, was fined $538,000 for failure to properly monitor wastewater discharged from its Parsippany plant between 1992 and 1999. Pfizer voluntarily disclosed the violations discovered as a result of an internal corporate audit.

"We are pleased Pfizer acted quickly to voluntarily disclose the monitoring violations and to correct the problem," said Commissioner Campbell. "While the sanctions issued reflect the significant deterrence imposed on the state's ability to safeguard water, they also take into consideration Pfizer's cooperation and appropriate response."

Between April 1, 1992 and May 31, 1999, Pfizer frequently monitored its effluent discharge when its industrial wastewater component was not present. Pfizer's permit - as do all such permits - requires sampling representative of the entire discharge, not just an element of it to ensure that total contaminant levels do not exceed permissible limits. The normal composition of Pfizer's discharge includes both sanitary and industrial wastewater, which is collected and treated at the Township of Parsippany-Troy-Hill's wastewater treatment facility.

Pfizer first disclosed the possibility of improper monitoring in a letter to the DEP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on June 15, 2001, and advised that it would investigate the matter further. On October 16, 2001, Pfizer met with the DEP and revealed that the results of their investigation indicated that improper monitoring occurred. Upon discovery of the violations, Pfizer immediately modified its operating procedures and enhanced its monitoring program to ensure that proper monitoring is conducted at all times. The settlement agreement for $538,000 was finalized today on August 7, 2002.

The two Pfizer employees responsible for the improper monitoring have permanently surrendered or not renewed their industrial wastewater treatment operator licenses. One employee was dismissed and the second employee has been reassigned to a non-regulatory compliance position.

Failure to properly monitor wastewater discharge undermines the integrity of the department's New Jersey Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NJPDES) permit program, which is based in large part on self-monitoring and reporting by permittees. DEP can not confirm that Pfizer was in compliance during the seven-year period when improper monitoring occurred. However, Pfizer has a good history of compliance at the Parsippany facility based on periods when proper sampling was conducted and confirmed by the DEP's check sampling.

 

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