By Ars Technic staffNovember 12, 2018 06:05:02 Merck has paid $3 billion to settle allegations of violating the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Act and other laws.
The settlement agreement, announced Monday, resolves two class-action lawsuits filed by three plaintiffs, including a woman named Laura, who was a pipeline worker in Wisconsin.
“It is an important first step in ensuring that the industry has a safe and responsible supply of the high-quality natural gas and oil products needed to operate the nation’s critical supply systems,” the company said in a statement.
The company also agreed to pay $9.2 million to settle a lawsuit by a man named David, who claims he was paid $2.7 million to work on a pipeline in Ohio and was later fired after complaining to Merck’s human resources department.
“This settlement ensures that our customers will continue to have access to safe, reliable, and affordable gas and petroleum products while maintaining the integrity of the supply system,” the statement said.
Merck is the largest private-sector producer of natural gas, but it was recently acquired by Chevron for $US1.4 billion.
A former Merck employee who worked on the company’s Milwaukee pipeline claims he and other former workers at a nearby storage facility were fired after their complaints about pipeline safety and environmental violations.
The whistleblower also says that his colleagues were not given adequate training and that Merck was responsible for training and supervising the workers.
Merk also agreed not to retaliate against any former employees who filed a class-actions lawsuit against Merck.