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Bristol-Myers Settles Clean Air Violations

Pharmaceuticals maker has agreed to spend $3.65 million to resolve federal Clean Air Act violations by eliminating ozone-depleting refrigerants at factories in 6 states and Puerto Rico.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Pharmaceuticals maker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. has agreed to spend $3.65 million to resolve federal Clean Air Act violations by eliminating ozone-depleting refrigerants at factories in six states and Puerto Rico.

Bristol-Myers also agreed to pay $127,000 in penalties to resolve claims brought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

A proposed consent decree filed Tuesday in federal court in Evansville, Ind., details the New York-based company's plan to retire or retrofit 17 refrigeration units by July 2009 that use hydrochlorofluorocarbons -- a gas that, when leaked, damages the ozone layer that protects Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Those and other changes at Bristol-Myers will remove more than 6,350 pounds of hydrochlorofluorocarbons from the company's operations, the Department of Justice said in a statement.

"These actions will help to protect the ozone layer, ensuring a safer environment for our future generations," said EPA Assistant Administrator Granta Nakayama.

Thinning of the ozone layer has been linked to skin cancer and eye damage in humans.

The 17 refrigeration units at plants in Mount Vernon and Evansville, Ind.; Hopewell, N.J.; and Humacao and Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, will switch to refrigerants that do not deplete stratospheric ozone.

In addition, Bristol-Myers will ensure 13 plants in Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Puerto Rico comply with the EPA's ozone-depletion regulations. Potential violations were found at those plants when the company audited a total of 25 plants to determine its compliance with the EPA's regulations.

Bristol-Myers also will retire two cooling units at its New Brunswick, N.J., plant and connect them to a new system that uses water-chilled coolers.

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