Spirits producer Bacardi has been ordered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to comply with the Clean Water Act with regard to waste water discharges into the Atlantic Ocean from its distillery in Catano, Puerto Rico.

The order relates to levels of lead, zinc, copper and all other materials which are currently discharged into the sea from the facility.

The EPA issued an Administrative Order for violating its permit, under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) programme. "Following repeated attempts to come to a resolution, EPA determined that it was in the best interest of environmental protection to proceed with a unilateral order and require Bacardi to comply," said the EPA's regional administrator Alan J. Steinberg. "If the company fails to comply, it will face stiff fines."

The EPA action gives Bacardi up to 180 days to comply with regulations, during which time it can continue to operate as it is currently doing.

A Bacardi spokesperson was reported to say Friday that the company promised to work toward compliance