October 3, 2009

Southern Union fined $18 million

A federal judge has fined Southern Union $18 million for illegally storing mercury at a company-owned site in Pawtucket, R.I., authorities said.

The penalty involves a $6 million criminal fine and $12 million in fines to be paid to the Rhode Island Foundation, Hasbro's Children's Hospital and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and Emergency Response Fund, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

The sentence was handed down Friday by Judge William Smith in U.S. District Court in Pawtucket, R.I.

This is a significant penalty for what was a significant hazard to Pawtucket residents, U.S. Attorney Neronha said. We are particularly pleased with the creative way in which Judge Smith fashioned the penalty, directing $12 million to benefit the people of Pawtucket.

Southern Union was convicted of illegally storing mercury for several years at a site near the Seekonk River.