Fluoride Action Network

ALCOA Fined $750,000 by Commerce Department For Illegal Chemical Shipments

Source: U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Export Administration | February 19th, 1999 | Press Release
Industry type: Chemical Weapons

WASHINGTON — The Commerce Department’s Under Secretary for Export Administration, William A. Reinsch, imposed a civil penalty of $750,000 on Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) for 100 violations of U.S. export regulations involving shipments of potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride.

The penalty results from Reinsch’s affirming an administrative law judge’s (ALJ) recommended findings in the case. The ALJ found that ALCOA exported potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride from the United States to Jamaica and Suriname on 50 separate occasions without obtaining the required Commerce Department export licenses. The violations occurred between June 1991 and December 1995. The ALJ also found that the company made false statements on export control documents in each shipment.

Potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride are controlled because they can be used to make chemical weapons. These chemicals were added to the Department’s control list in March 1991, but ALCOA’s export compliance program failed to recognize and incorporate the change. There was no indication that in this case the chemicals were used for weapons purposes.

Reinsch observed, “This penalty should send the message that there are significant advantages to having an internal compliance program that catches and reports problems quickly.”

Reinsch’s action imposes the maximum civil penalty of $10,000 for each of the 50 shipping without a license violations. He also imposed a penalty of $5,000 for each false statement.

Commerce’s Export Administration Regulations provide that an administrative law judge administrative enforcement proceedings be conducted by who recommends an appropriate resolution of the case to the Under Secretary for Export Administration. The Under Secretary may affirm, modify, or vacate the ALJ’s recommendation. In this case, Reinsch agreed with the findings but modified the penalties recommended by the ALJ.

Reinsch’s order and the ALJ’s recommendations will be printed in the Federal Register.

Eugene Cottilli
Susan Hofer
(202) 482-2721