EPA Settles Four Illinois and Michigan Cases Involving Hazardous Chemical Release Reporting, Files New Wisconsin Case

EPA Region 5 announced on Feb. 15 it recently settled four cases involving late notification of hazardous chemical releases. The facilities cited are located in Alsip, Chicago Heights and Dwight, Ill.; and River Rouge, Mich. EPA also announced a new case, citing a Kansasville, Wis., company for late notification of a chemical release.

Hondo Inc. (doing business as Coca-Cola Bottling of Chicago), Alsip, Ill., paid a $10,478 civil penalty. The facility was cited for failure to promptly report a 563-pound release of anhydrous ammonia to the National Response Center (NRC) on March 20, 2006. The NRC was notified more than three hours after the company knew of the incident. The chemical was released from a faulty refrigeration system on the roof of the building.

Anhydrous ammonia is commonly used in commercial refrigeration systems. The chemical causes burns to the skin and irritation to the eyes, nose and throat and may be fatal if inhaled for long periods of time. Anhydrous ammonia releases greater than 100 pounds must be immediately reported.

Alpharma Inc., an animal feed facility in Chicago Heights, Ill., paid a $5,000 cash penalty and will complete a $24,737 environmental project. The facility was cited for failure to promptly report a 13,277-pound release of sulfuric acid to the National Response Center on Oct. 31, 2005. The NRC was notified more than six hours after the company knew of the incident. The chemical was released when a storage tank leaked. Alpharma will install a remote monitor and alarm system on its sulfuric acid storage tank and upgrade the piping connected to the system.

Sulfuric acid causes burns to the skin and irritation to the eyes, nose and throat. Releases greater than 1,000 pounds must be immediately reported.

Aldi Inc., which operates a refrigerated food warehouse in Dwight, Ill., paid a $23,150 civil penalty and will complete a $23,150 environmental project. The facility was cited for failure to immediately notify the NRC, the state emergency response commission and the local emergency response planning committee of a 600-pound anhydrous ammonia release on Aug. 22, 2005. The response agencies were notified more than eight hours after the company knew of the release. A required written follow-up report was also filed late, 32 days after the incident. The chemical was released when a pressure relief valve opened prematurely. Aldi will purchase additional emergency response equipment for the Dwight Fire Department.

Detroit Edison's electrical power generation plant in River Rouge, Mich., paid a $52,333 civil penalty. The facility was cited for failure to immediately notify the National Response Center of a 10,559-pound release of sodium hydroxide on May 6, 2003. Detroit Edison notified the NRC, the Michigan emergency response commission and local emergency planning committee about an hour after it knew of the release. A required written follow-up report to the Michigan emergency response commission was also filed late, 10 days after the incident. A follow-up report to the local emergency planning committee was never filed. The incident occurred when a maintenance crew left a process valve open. The sodium hydroxide flowed through the process line and mixed with cooling water, which was then released from the facility.

Sodium hydroxide is commonly used in metal cleaning and processing. Exposure to it can irritate or burn the skin, eyes and gastrointestinal tract. Inhaling large amounts can be fatal. Sodium hydroxide releases greater than 1,000 pounds must be reported immediately.

In the new case, EPA proposed an $80,596 civil penalty against Conserve FS Inc., doing business as Lake-Cook Farm Supply in Kansasville, Wis. The facility was cited for failure to promptly report a 1,055-pound release of anhydrous ammonia to the Wisconsin Emergency Response Commission and the local emergency response planning commission on Oct. 11, 2004. The agencies were notified more than 17 hours after the facility knew of the release. The facility also failed to file a written follow-up report. The release was caused by a leaking valve on an ammonia tank.

For additional information, contact EPA Region 5 at http://www.epa.gov/region5.

This article originally appeared in the 02/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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