Company agrees to pay $2.5M in wake of deadly blast at DeRidder mill
Published 1:15 pm Thursday, September 29, 2022
WASHINGTON — Packaging Corporation of America, headquartered in Illinois, has agreed to pay $2.5 million in civil penalties to resolve allegations that it violated the Clean Air Act’s General Duty Clause and Risk Management Program Regulations at its containerboard production mill in DeRidder.
In the complaint, filed Wednesday with the proposed settlement, the United States and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality allege nine Clean Air Act violations that stem, in part, from a fatal explosion and accidental release at the DeRidder mill on Feb. 8, 2017. The explosion — which killed three workers and injured seven others — launched a 100,000-gallon storage tank into the air and over a six-story building before it landed on mill equipment approximately 400 feet away. The blast also caused property damage and released extremely hazardous substances into the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency inspected the mill after the explosion and uncovered additional violations.
“PCA violated the Clean Air Act and accompanying regulations at its DeRidder mill, resulting in an explosion that caused the senseless deaths of three workers, while placing other workers and the surrounding community in danger,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division. “The Department will continue enforcing environmental mandates to save lives and protect air quality — especially against companies with a history of misconduct, like PCA.”
Email newsletter signup
“The Clean Air Act was created to provide guidelines for companies such as PCA to adhere to in order to keep our communities safe from hazardous substances,” said U.S. Attorney Brandon Brown for the Western District of Louisiana. “Sadly, it took an explosion and the loss of lives to highlight PCA’s failure to adhere to some of these guidelines. The Civil Division in the Western District of Louisiana has an important job and welcomes the opportunity to continue to work alongside our federal and local partners to ensure these laws are abided by.”
The proposed settlement is subject to a 45-day public comment period and court review and approval.