Hamilton Sundstrand To Pay $12 Million For Illegal Dumping

Aerospace manufacturer Hamilton Sundstrand pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of violating the federal Clean Water Act and admitted dumping industrial discharge into the Farmington River in Conn.

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Aerospace manufacturer Hamilton Sundstrand pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of violating the federal Clean Water Act, admitting dumping industrial discharge from its Windsor Locks plant into the Farmington River.

Lawyers for Hamilton Sundstrand, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., appeared in U.S. District Court in Hartford. The company agreed to pay a $1 million fine and contribute another $11 million for environmental improvement projects. It was also placed on probation for five years.

U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor called the $12 million in fines and contributions one of the largest settlements of a pollution case ever in Connecticut. He declined to say whether any company employees will be charged, but noted the investigation is continuing.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Thompson will decide whether to accept the plea agreement and impose the sentence on April 27.

Hamilton Sundstrand was accused of exceeding government-set levels for discharge of hexavalent chromium between 2001 and 2003 and altering documents to conceal the violations.

The company was also accused of knowingly dumping tens of thousands of gallons of contaminated wastewater containing chelated copper into the Farmington River in September 2003.

''I think what today's convictions demonstrate is that state DEP, the federal EPA and the U.S. attorney's office believe that this type of conduct is downright criminal and we will continue to prosecute it aggressively,'' O'Connor said at a news conference Thursday.

The company, which makes space suits and aircraft operating systems, said in a statement Thursday that it is now in full compliance with environmental laws.

''Hamilton Sundstrand is committed to environmental leadership that goes beyond mere compliance,'' the company said. ''Clearly we did not live up to our standards in this instance. We regret this failure and will take all necessary steps so such events never happen again.''

Gina McCarthy, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, said there are no long-term impacts on the environment or drinking water supplies from the discharges of the chromium and copper, both toxic substances used in metal finishing work.

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