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EPA and Springfield, Mass. Company Settle Clean Air Act Case

Release Date: 09/27/2001
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, EPA Press Office (617) 918-1013 Samantha Martin, U.S. Attorney's Press Office, (617) 748-3139

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The United States Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Attorney's Office today announced they settled Clean Air Act complaint against a Springfield decorative chromium electroplating company.

The complaint, which was filed today along with a consent decree, alleges that National Metal Finishing Corp. violated the federal Clean Air Act by failing to follow reporting, notification and work practice standards for emissions of chromium and halogenated solvents.

Under the terms of the consent decree, National will pay a $29,729 fine and voluntarily spend $160,000 on a project that will reduce water pollution in the Springfield area.

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA sets limits air pollutants and requires that companies keep records and notify environmental officials about the chemicals used in their businesses. The Clean Air Act also establishes work practice standards to ensure workers are not subjected to dangerous levels of air pollutants.

The complaint alleges that National violated the Clean Air Act by:

    • Not submitting required reports about its operations to the EPA.
    • Not developing and implementing an operations and maintenance plan for its chrome plating operations.
    • Not maintaining records required by federal regulations governing the use of halogenated solvents. Halogenated solvents, used to clean equipment, contain trichloroethylene – or TCE – a hazardous air pollutant that is carcinogenic and can cause a variety of adverse health effects.
    • Not employing all the work practice and basic equipment design requirements for halogenated solvent use.
"In order for the Clean Air Act to work, businesses need to comply with all of the regulations that go into it, even what might seem like the most mundane paperwork requirements. When companies don't do this, they are potentially putting people – their employees and neighbors – at risk," Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office said.

As part of the settlement, National will install a wastewater purification and recycling system using micro-filtration and reverse osmosis. This will reduce the company's industrial waste discharge to the Springfield wastewater treatment plant by 50 percent. In addition, the filtration system will remove metal hydroxide sludge, considered a hazardous waste by EPA, from the wastewater. The sludge will be sent to a recycling facility.

Although the EPA settlement only calls for $160,000 to be spent on this project, National estimates that the cost of the wastewater treatment equipment is approximately $350,000 and $35,000 a year to operate. It will cost $2,000 a year to label and dispose of the sludge.

"National really must be commended for this wastewater filtration system. It goes above and beyond what the EPA requirement is and shows the company is a good neighbor that is interested in protecting the environment. It will protect human health and the urban environment not only in the immediate area, but far afield as well," Varney said.

The case was investigated by EPA New England attorney David Peterson and environmental engineer Tom McCusker and handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Goodwin in Sullivan's Springfield branch office.

The complaint against National Metal Finishing is part of a larger effort by EPA that includes assisting companies that clean or finish metal and educating them on relevant environmental regulations. EPA efforts to control pollution by the metal industry stems in part from regulations enacted in 1995 to regulate emissions of chromium, trichloroethylene and other toxic chemicals.

Much of the work with the metal industry is being done through EPA's Metal Finishing Strategic Goals Program, a three-year-old program that is encouraging metal finishers to meet aggressive pollution reduction goals by the year 2002. The national program was launched in partnership with industry groups, environmental groups and state and local regulators.

Companies that sign up for the program receive compliance and pollution prevention assistance. And, as companies work toward meeting the goals, they'll be rewarded with more flexible regulatory oversight from EPA and state environmental regulators.

More information on federal regulations and how to prevent pollution is available by calling EPA's Office of Assistance and Pollution Prevention at 1-617-918-1718 or visit the Web site