Rubbermaid fined $184,000 for air pollution violations

A Rubbermaid distribution center in Winchester will have to pay an $184,500 fine to the state after the Department of Environmental Quality found that the facility had “knowingly and blatantly constructed and operated” machines that violated state emissions limits.

The settlement was announced Wednesday afternoon by Attorney General Mark Herring’s office.

The Winchester Star reports:

The settlement involves machines at the 55-acre distribution center at 125 Apple Valley Road. The machines include a bake-off oven, laser cutter and powder-coating equipment.

The laser cutter emits particulate matter that includes soot, smoke and microscopic air pollution particles. The federal Environmental Protection Agency says particulate matter aggravates asthma and can cause premature death in people with heart or lung disease. The National Institutes of Health said studies show a “robust association” between gastric cancer and long-term exposure to particulates.

Prior reporting by the Winchester Star also revealed a history of environmental violations at the site, including a roughly $62,000 fine in 2018 for failing to get a permit for machines it was operating that emitted air pollution.

In a release, Herring said that he hopes the settlement “sends a message to other similar companies that Virginia will not tolerate the unpermitted construction and operation of machines that could potentially harm the environment.”