Formica Corporation’s Sierra Plant fined for 2000-06 violations

Plant fined for violating effluent limits
By: Liz Kellar Gold Country News Service
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The Formica Corp.’s Sierra Plant, which closed its doors in 2007, was fined in May for violating effluent limits. The manufacturing plant was fined $6,000 in penalties for violations of effluent limitations for oxygen-consuming chemicals and chemicals affecting the water’s acidity, which occurred at the facility between May 2000 and February 2006. The plant, which was located in Rocklin, employed many area residents. According to Wendy Wyels, an environmental program manager at the Regional Water Quality Control Board, the fine stemmed from a decision to issue mandatory minimum penalties to companies in accordance with a law that came into effect in 2000. The Formica plant, she said, had only two violations for the six-year period. However, according to the complaint filed in May 2008, Formica committed six serious violations during that time period. The violations were considered serious because the measured concentrations of effluents exceeded maximum prescribed levels by more than 40 percent. The penalty for those violations was assessed at $18,000. The plant also committed 20 non-serious violations between 2000 and 2006 ; eight of those were subject to penalties because they were preceded by three or more similar violations within a six-month period. The penalty for those violations was $24,000, for a total of $42,000. However, Formica claimed protection from any penalties incurred before a declaration of bankruptcy in June 2004. The penalty was reduced to just $6,000, for two serious violations – one in August 2005 and one in October 2005. The four previous serious violations all occurred in May 2000. Formica is an international corporation with its headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. Formica manufactures composite surfacing materials for a number of industrial and domestic uses. According to an article published in April 2007, the Formica plant opened in Lincoln in the 1960s.