EPA Settles Two Hazardous Chemical Reporting Cases
Two cases involving late notification of hazardous chemical releases were recently settled by EPA Region 5, officials announced on Aug. 2. The facilities are located in Riverdale, Ill., and Zeeland, Mich. A new case involving an Aldi warehouse in Dwight, Ill., also was filed.
"Federal law requires notification to local authorities of hazardous chemical releases," said Richard Karl, Regional EPA Superfund division director. "Emergency responders need to know so they can take steps to protect people living or working in the area."
Westway Terminals Co., Riverdale, Ill., paid $15,000 to resolve EPA's October 2005 complaint for failure to immediately notify the National Response Center, the Illinois emergency response commission and the Cook County or Chicago local emergency planning committees of a 50,667-pound release of sulfuric acid on Dec. 24, 2002. Riverdale borders Chicago.
Sulfuric acid releases of more than 1,000 pounds must be immediately reported to the National Response Center and state and local emergency response agencies. The release at Westway occurred when a storage tank leaked sulfuric acid into a secondary containment area, and some of the sulfuric acid spilled onto the ground. In settling the matter, Westway not only agreed to pay the $15,000 fine, but also to spend $5,000 on an environmental project in which the company donated specialized fire-suppression materials and response equipment to the Chicago and Riverdale fire departments. Sulfuric acid causes burns to the skin and irritation to the eyes nose and throat.
Zeeland Chemicals, Zeeland, Mich., paid $10,000 to resolve EPA's October 2005 complaint for failure to immediately notify the National Response Center, the Michigan emergency response commission and the local emergency planning committee of a 5,490-pound release of toluene on Jan. 2, 2005.
Toluene releases of more than 1,000 pounds must be immediately reported to the National Response Center and state and local emergency response agencies. A required follow-up report was also filed late. The release occurred when a process tank over-pressurized and a rupture disk blew allowing the toluene to be released into the atmosphere. In addition to the fine, Zeeland Chemicals completed an environmental project valued at $70,625, in which the company installed an upgraded scrubber system that should reduce its air pollution and volatile organic compound releases. Toluene causes irritation to the eyes nose and throat and may cause liver and kidney damage.
In the new case, EPA proposed a $93,433 civil penalty against Aldi Inc., Dwight, Ill. The company was cited for failure to immediately notify the National Response Center, the state emergency response commission and the local emergency response planning committee of a 600-pound anhydrous ammonia release on Aug. 22, 2005. EPA alleges the company did not contact the response agencies for more than eight hours after it knew of the release. The required follow-up report was also filed late. Additionally, the company was late in submitting the Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory forms to the proper authorities for the 2003 and 2004 calendar years.
Anhydrous ammonia releases greater than 100 pounds must be immediately reported. Anhydrous ammonia, which is commonly used in commercial refrigeration systems, causes burns to the skin and irritation to the eyes, nose and throat. It may be fatal if inhaled for long periods of time.
More information on EPA's regulations for emergencies, accidents and spills can be found at http://www.epa.gov/oswer/emergencies.htm.
This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.