Maine Manufacturer Violates Chemical Handling Regulations
A South Portland manufacturer has agreed to pay a penalty to settle charges by the EPA that violated the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention rules.
A South Portland manufacturer has agreed to pay a $137,294 penalty to settle charges by the EPA that violated the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention rules.
In the action, EPA alleged that Quick Plug N.A. failed to follow federal regulations in its use of toluene diisocyanate, an extremely hazardous substance known as TDI that it used in making a soil-like media for growing seeds. The agency also said that the company failed to prepare and submit a Risk Management Plan (RMP) due to its use of the chemical. EPA said that from 2016 to 2018, Quick Plug’s facility used more than the threshold quantity of 10,000 pounds in its process.
"Complying with risk management plan regulations helps companies prevent accidental releases of extremely hazardous substances," said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro in a press release. "These requirements are designed to help protect local communities and the emergency responders who may be called on if there is an accident at the facility."
Quick Plug, a company originally founded in the Netherlands, made trays of growth media for seedlings and small plants in South Portland until stopped operating in Maine in December 2020. During an EPA inspection of the facility before it closed, inspectors documented several issues, including improper handling and storage of TDI.
According to a press release, TDI is a regulated extremely hazardous substance under the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention regulations. TDI, a possible carcinogen, can cause respiratory irritation or breathing difficulties if inhaled.
Among the issues named by EPA, inspectors found missing signs; fire hazards caused by use of extension cords; use of a portable electric space heater inside the chemical storage area; improper storage of combustible wood pallets; lack of proper ventilation; failure to maintain equipment that was leaking TDI; and open drums of TDI-containing chemicals.
In addition, EPA said secondary containment was missing in several chemical storage areas, and safety showers were missing at eyewash stations near the carousel line and chemical storage hut.