Eastman Kodak Co. was fined $2.15 million in criminal and civil penalties on Thursday for violating New York's environmental laws.
The photographic giant pleaded guilty in Rochester City Court to two misdemeanor violations for illegally disposing of hazardous waste and failing to report the spill of a toxic solvent until five days after it was discovered.The $1 million criminal fine is the largest ever assessed by New York in an environmental case and among the largest in the nation, said state Attorney General Robert Abrams.
The incidents occurred in 1986 and 1987 at the 2,200-acre Kodak Park manufacturing center for film and photographic products. The illegal hazardous waste disposal was one of a series of violations, said assistant state Attorney General Paul McCarthy.
Under a plea agreement, Kodak was fined $1 million in criminal penalties for the two violations, plus $150,000 to be paid to local emergency planning committees.
Kodak also signed a consent order with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Under that order, the company will pay an additional $1 million in civil penalties and begin an extensive clean-up of Kodak Park.
But Judge Herman J. Walz criticized the agreement for letting Kodak's officers off the hook.
``When a corporation pleads guilty in exchange for an agreement not to prosecute members of the corporation, then people who have participated in a criminal act go unpunished,' Walz said.
``In this court's view, so-called white collar criminals ought to be punished as severely as any other criminal, and because such criminal conduct frequently results in much more serious consequences to society, perhaps more severely.'
Kodak spokesman Ronald Roberts said the company had accepted responsibility for the violations.