Environmental Protection

Portland, Maine, Facility faces EPA Sanction for Unsafe Storage of Hazardous Chemicals

A chemical manufacturing and distribution facility in South Portland, Maine, faces an EPA fine of up to $151,900 for improper storage of hazardous materials, in violation of federal and state laws.

Monson Companies Inc. of Leominster, Mass., which operates a warehouse, distribution, repackaging and custom blending chemical manufacturing facility, was recently issued a complaint by EPA for its failure to meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act, the Maine Hazardous Waste Management Rules and the federal Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Act.

According to EPA, Monson violated the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention provisions by not appropriately storing numerous chemicals that, alone or in combination, are extremely hazardous and can cause explosions or other violent reactions. The complaint alleges that the facility stored incompatible chemicals sufficiently close together that a spill or release of one chemical could result in a chemical reaction with other chemicals, creating toxic gases or causing a fire or explosion.

One goal of the Clean Air Act is to prevent accidental releases of substances that can cause serious harm to the public and the environment from short-term exposures and to mitigate the severity of accidental releases that do occur. Failure of a facility to identify hazards and design and maintain a safe facility in order to limit accidental releases of extremely hazardous substances puts the local population and environment at risk.

The facility also violated requirements to identify hazardous wastes so that the wastes could be safely managed; maintain a proper emergency plan; and submit a complete inventory of its hazardous materials to emergency responders. This case arises out of a series of inspections that EPA New England has undertaken at chemical warehouse and distribution facilities in an effort to address compliance issues at these facilities.

Monson has since submitted the required hazardous chemical inventory form and has addressed the Clean Air Act hazards identified by the EPA inspector. The company has also completed hazardous waste determinations and properly shipped certain wastes off site as hazardous wastes.

EPA New England has brought 10 Clean Air Act enforcement actions against companies that warehouse chemicals, including six administrative compliance orders and four penalty orders.

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