Adolph Coors Co., which has long touted the pure Rocky Mountain spring water in its beer, was accused Tuesday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of illegally disposing of hazardous wastes that leaked into the ground water under its Golden, Colo., brewery from 1981 to 1984.
The EPA also charged Coors with three record-keeping violations. In a related action, the Colorado Dept. of Health cited Coors for alleged violations of the Colorado Water Quality Control Act.
Neither agency found evidence that the company's beer was ever contaminated.
The citations stem from Coors' surprise announcement in February--prodded by a television news report--that it had discovered degreasing solvent contamination in its ground water in 1981. The leaking substances included cancer-causing agents.
Although Coors repaired the leaks by 1984, it allegedly failed to notify the agencies when asked in a 1985 letter, as part of a routine hazardous-waste permit application, to disclose any possible releases of hazardous substances.
The EPA is "particularly concerned" about Coors' failure to reply to that letter and will seek "substantial penalties." Carol L. Campbell, of EPA's Denver branch, suggested that will mean a fine "in the six-figure range."