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Sara Lee Settles Over Environmental Violations

By B. Raack, KWMU

St. Louis, Mo. – The federal government has settled a major case against St. Louis-based Sara Lee Bakery Group for damaging the world's ozone layer.

Sara Lee purchased several companies in 2001 including Earthgrains, which was the target of the suit. It has agreed to pay a $5.25-million civil penalty and to convert its industrial refrigeration units to systems that do not deplete the ozone layer.

But Sara Lee spokesman Matt Hall says the company admits no wrongdoing.

"The bulk of the allegations involve record-keeping violations of the clean air act and some allegations of releasing refrigerant into the atmosphere but we deny all those allegations for a couple of reasons. One, we are an environmentally-responsible company and two, to avoid the expense of protracted litigation," Hall said.

Hall says the company is in the process of retrofitting or replacing its refrigerant-using equipment at 67 bakeries and other facilities.