Teva Pays Big Bucks for Wrecking Environment

Teva Pays Big Bucks for Wrecking Environment

March 15th, 2013 // 2:15 pm @

How the Quality Manager Gets Canned

As increasing concern mounts over the extent to which pharmaceuticals may harm the water supply, drugmakers are being scrutinized quite closely for infractions that contribute to the problem. The latest instance involves Teva Pharmaceuticals, which agreed to pay $2.3 million to resolve a series of violations at a Missouri plant where antibiotics are made.

For instance, a 2007 inspection of the facility revealed violations of the Clean Air Act. These included a failure to control emissions of hazardous air pollutants from wastewater and a failure to comply with regulations designed to prevent leaks of air pollutants from equipment at the site, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. The plant is located in Mexico, Missouri.

Another inspection found the facility discharged pollutants above permitted municipal levels, which violated the Clean Water Act. In some cases, the pollutants interfered with the city’s ability to treat sewage, which caused discharges into a the nearby Salt River. A 2008 inspection found Teva discharged a fluorescent, green-colored green effluent that ultimately discolored a portion of the river in November and December of that year.

There was more. In 2009, an inspection by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources uncovered various violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. These violations included a failure to determine if waste was hazardous, illegal storage of hazardous waste, a failure to comply with labeling requirements and offering hazardous waste for transport without a manifest, according to an EPA statement.

How the Quality Manager Gets Canned

“With numerous violations over a period of years, Teva’s actions resulted in significant environmental damage to the air and water,” EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks says in the statement. “The penalty and injunctive relief required by this agreement send a strong message to Teva and others that businesses must comply with environmental laws.”

Under the terms of the settlement, Teva (TEVA) will have to visually observe its water discharge at least once a day, assess past violations and recommend actions to prevent a reoccurrence, make sure all hazardous-waste containers are properly labeled and stored, and implement an enhanced leak detection program. Teva will undertake mitigation projects to reduce hazardous emissions, according to Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster(see this).

The $2.25 million penalty consists of a $1.125 million payment to the US Treasury and a $1.125 million payment to the State of Missouri. Of course, some may argue that the total sum of this penalty is pocket change for a company that generated $20.3 billion in revenue last year and may be insufficient to send the sort of message that EPA officials maintain is being delivered. But, as they say, only time will tell.

Concern over pharmaceuticals in the water supply is receiving increased attention. Recently, for instance, scientists discovered that tiny amounts of the oxazepam anti-anxiety drug can cause perch to become aggressive, anti-social and overactive. The fish are also prone to gobble up other fish more quickly. And the end result is that these behavioral changes could ultimately upset the dynamics of the marine environment (see this).

Last year, a team of researchers has discovered that fish show autism-like gene expression after exposure to water containing antidepressants, such as Prozac and Effexor (read here). And a 2008 investigation by the Associated Press investigation found that the drinking water of at least 51 million Americans carries low concentrations of many common drugs.

H/T: Pharmalot

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