Four Washington companies resolve violations of federal chemical storage laws
Seattle -- Four Washington companies have signed settlements for violations of federal chemical storage laws, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA’s investigations found that the companies failed to properly report storage of significant amounts of hazardous chemicals at their facilities to the local and state response authorities as required under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.
'If emergency responders don’t have accurate records on hazardous chemicals in their communities, it can hinder their ability to respond during crises,' said Kelly McFadden, Manager of the Pesticides and Toxics Unit in EPA’s Seattle office. 'These laws are in place to protect emergency responders and communities when it matters most.'
Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, facilities that store quantities of certain hazardous chemicals are required to submit an inventory of each of those chemicals to the State Emergency Response Commission, the Local Emergency Planning Committee, and the local fire department. Emergency responders rely on this information for their safety and to help protect nearby residents during an emergency, such as a fire or an earthquake. Citizens can also access the information to find out what chemicals are being stored and used in their neighborhoods.
The companies have taken steps to prevent future violations and agreed to pay fines.
Foster Poultry Farms
According to EPA, Foster Poultry Farms, a California-based company with a facility in Kelso, Washington violated federal chemical storage laws by failing to meet the federal deadline for reporting significant quantities of chemicals stored at its facility in 2013. The company stored over 500 pounds each of ammonia and sulfuric acid and over 10,000 pounds each of carbon dioxide, sodium hydroxide solution, ferric chloride solution, lead and nitrogen at the Kelso facility. The company uses ammonia for refrigeration and the other chemicals for processing chickens, sanitizing and wastewater treatment.
Anhydrous ammonia is an irritant and corrosive to the skin, eyes, respiratory tract and mucous membranes. Exposure to ammonia liquid or rapidly expanding gases may cause severe chemical burns and frostbite to the eyes, lungs and skin. In addition, ammonia has potentially explosive reactions with strong oxidizers.
The company has submitted the required reports and agreed to pay a fine of $112,500.
Shining Ocean, Inc.
From 2009-2013, Shining Ocean, Inc., a Sumner, Washington wholesale seafood distributor, stored over 500 pounds each of ammonia and sulfuric acid at its Sumner facility. According to EPA, the company violated EPCRA by failing to meet the federal deadline for reporting these chemicals to state and local response agencies for each of those years. Shining Ocean uses ammonia in its refrigeration system and sulfuric acid is used in the wastewater treatment plant.
Sulfuric acid is a colorless oily liquid. It is corrosive to metals and tissue. Long-term exposure to low concentrations or short-term exposure to high concentrations can result in adverse health effects from inhalation.
The company agreed to pay a fine of $16,575. In addition, the company has agreed to spend $87,500 to enhance its ammonia monitoring system. The enhancements include adding ammonia sensors to the facility to improve detection of releases, installing cameras to observe the ammonia system remotely, adding ammonia release alarms, and upgrading the system’s software to allow monitoring from mobile devices.
Two Rivers Terminal, LLC
Region 10 settled with Two Rivers Terminal, LLC, a Pasco, Washington wholesale warehouse company that distributes agricultural pesticides and chemicals, for violations of EPCRA at three of its facilities.
From 2011-2012, Two Rivers Terminal failed to report significant quantities of over 80 different chemicals stored in three facilities in Pasco and Moses Lake, Washington. This included storage of over 990 times the reporting threshold of anhydrous ammonia at one of its facilities, over 330 times the reporting threshold of anhydrous ammonia at another one of its facilities, and over 4,650 times the reporting threshold of paraquat dichloride at its other facility in 2012.
Paraquat dichloride is an herbicide that can be toxic to humans and can lead to liver, lung, heart, or kidney failure.
The company has agreed to pay a fine of $200,000.
Wilcox Farms, Inc.
In 2013, Wilcox Farms, Inc. a Roy, Washington company, violated federal chemical storage laws by failing to meet the federal deadline for reporting significant quantities of chemicals stored at its facility. The company had stored 8,800 pounds of ammonia and 2,550 pounds of sulfuric acid at its facility, for which the reporting threshold is 500 pounds. In addition, the company stored over 67,000 pounds of propane and over 72,000 pounds of diesel fuel at its facility, for which the reporting threshold is 10,000 pounds.
Wilcox Farms uses anhydrous ammonia for refrigeration, propane for heating, and sulfuric acid for processing and cleaning in its chicken processing operations.
The company has corrected the violations and agreed to pay a fine of $15,625. In addition, the company has agreed to conduct a Supplemental Environmental Project to convert its diesel-fueled boiler to a propane-fueled boiler at a cost of $96,000 to achieve lower air emissions.
For more information on EPCRA, visit: http://www2.epa.gov/epcra