CHICAGO (Oct. 25, 2005) — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 recently settled administrative cases with three Ohio companies for violations of federal law governing the reporting of hazardous chemical releases. The companies involved and the location of their Ohio facilities are Millennium Inorganic Chemicals Inc., Ashtabula; F.T. Precision Inc., Fredericktown; and Ohio Power Co., Cheshire.
The EPA regulations require anyone handling hazardous materials to notify federal, state and local emergency responders when leaks or excessive releases occur.
Millennium Inorganic Chemicals settled two separate reporting violation cases at its Plant 1 and Plant 2 in Ashtabula. In the Plant 1 case, Millennium agreed to pay a civil penalty of $39,175 to resolve EPA's complaint that the company was late in reporting a 99-pound chlorine leak to the National Response Center, the Ohio Emergency Response Commission and local emergency response authorities on June 5, 2005. The accidental release happened at 7:30 p.m., but federal, state and local responding agencies were not notified until more than 13 hours later. The release volume was nearly 10 times over the 10-pound threshold required for government notification.
This incident occurred while EPA and the company were negotiating a settlement to a similar reporting violation at Plant 2 in Ashtabula. In that incident, 61 pounds of chlorine were accidentally released on Dec. 18, 2001, and federal, state and local responders were not notified until between four and five hours after the accident. Millennium Inorganic agreed to pay a civil penalty of $10,750 for the Plant 2 incident and perform a supplemental environmental project worth $24,036. For the environmental project, the company will donate to local emergency responders several pieces of hazardous material gear including a trailer, a generator, a weather station and testing equipment.
Chlorine is a dangerous gas that reacts explosively with many common chemicals. It causes headaches, nausea, choking and burns the respiratory system if inhaled. Heavy exposure can lead to death.
F.T. Precision Inc. agreed to pay a civil penalty of $46,451 and perform a supplemental environmental project worth $3,459 for its late reporting of a May 21, 2004, release of 1,757 pounds of anhydrous ammonia at its Fredericktown plant. The leak occurred between 5 and 6 a.m. and company officials determined the amount was 18 times the 100-pound reporting threshold at 3 p.m. that day but did not inform federal, state and local authorities until after 5 p.m. The company was also late in submitting a required follow-up notice to the Ohio Emergency Response Committee and failed to send a follow-up to the local emergency management agency. For its supplemental environmental project, F.T. Precision agreed to install a leak detector near its anhydrous ammonia tank during October 2005.
Ohio Power Co., doing business as American Electric Power, had been cited for late reporting of a 1,270-pound anhydrous ammonia release on June 3, 2004, at its Gavin power plant near Cheshire. The leak was nearly 13 times the reporting threshold of 100 pounds. The State Emergency Response Commission and local authorities were notified almost four hours after the release and the National Response Center was not informed until 19 hours after the leak. Ohio Power also was late submitting required follow-up reports to state and local authorities. The company agreed to pay a $16,013 civil penalty to settle the complaint and perform a supplemental environmental project costing $66,745. For its special project, Ohio Power will install sophisticated leak detection equipment next spring at its Cheshire plant.
Anhydrous ammonia, which has several industrial uses, can be fatal if inhaled for long periods of time. It causes burns to the skin and irritation to the eyes, nose and throat.