Chemical Producer Faces Fine for Environmental Violations at Fairfield Conn Facility
A chemical producer faces an EPA fine of $93,900 for failing to report the use and storage of hazardous chemicals at its Fairfield, Conn. facility, in violation of the federal right-to-know law. According to a recent EPA complaint, the company, 5N Plus, Inc., violated the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) by failing to report hazardous chemical inventory information, known as Tier II reports, to the fire department, and the local and state emergency responders. The company also failed to report the use and potential release of lead and selenium to the state and federal Toxic Release Inventory, a national database of toxic chemical use available to the public.
During a June 2011 inspection of the facility, EPA determined that 5N Plus had failed to follow the reporting requirements by failing to include gallium trichloride (an extremely hazardous substance) in its inventory of hazardous chemicals for 2010, and by failing to submit Tier II reports for reporting years 2008 and 2009 for chlorine gas, lead and gallium trichloride. Following further review, EPA also determined that the company had failed to submit accurate Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reports for lead in 2008 and 2009, and for selenium in 2010.
Accurate reporting of hazardous chemicals at facilities is critically important to ensure that emergency responders are aware of potential hazards that are present at a facility in the case of an emergency so that they can take adequate precautions to protect public health as well as their own well-being. Further, the company’s failure to file these required forms deprives the community of its right to know about chemicals stored, used, and potentially released in the neighborhood.
After the two inspections, a release of chlorine gas at the facility resulted in area-wide evacuations and worker exposure to chlorine gas. Subsequent to the release, the company moved its gallium trichloride manufacture to another facility.
The proposed penalty includes $40,500 for failure to file Tier II forms for 2008, 2009 and 2010 and $53,400 for failure to file TRI forms for reporting years 2008, 2009 and 2010.