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EPA Fines Circuit Board Manufacturer $20,000 for Failing to Notify Authorities After Chemical Release

Release Date: 5/15/2003
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, U.S. EPA, (415) 947-4248

     Company Also Required to Buy Special Equipment for Phoenix Fire Department
     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today required a circuit board manufacturer to pay a $20,000 penalty and spend $46,000 to buy equipment for the Phoenix fire department for failing to immediately notify the proper authorities after chemical releases from its South Phoenix, Ariz. facility.

     Hadco Corp. failed to immediately notify the National Response Center, the State Emergency Response Commission and the Local Emergency Planning Committee after 165 pounds of chlorine were released to the air in May 2000.  The reportable quantity is 10 pounds.  

     The release lasted about 35 minutes and sent several Hadco employees and an employee from a nearby business to the local hospital.  Hadco reported the release to the NRC and the LERC almost six hours after the incident.  The fire department notified the SERC.

     The company also failed to immediately notify the NRC about a 20 pound cupric chloride release in November 2000.  The reportable quantity is 10 pounds.  Hadco did not notify the NRC until 3:30 p.m. the next day.  The cupric chloride release did not go beyond the facility's boundaries.

     "When a business fails to quickly provide critical information to authorities, a community's ability to respond during an emergency may suffer," said Keith Takata, the EPA's Superfund director for the Pacific Southwest region.  "Today's action goes beyond paying a penalty.  It's designed to protect and improve the environment and public health by  providing valuable emergency equipment to the Phoenix fire department."

     The company will spend approximately $46,000 to buy three thermal imaging cameras and related equipment for the city of Phoenix Fire Department Special Hazards Unit.  Thermal imaging cameras are used to locate victims inside burning buildings, locate the seat of a fire, identify sources and movement of contaminants in water and on the ground, and to determine liquid levels in containers.

     Chlorine is corrosive to the eyes, skin and the respiratory tract.  Cupric acid causes skin irritation, redness and pain.

     Hadco manufactures multi-layered printed circuit boards and uses hazardous substances in its plating, photo, printing, etching, soldering and cleaning processes.  

      Federal law requires immediate notification of a reportable release in order for emergency response teams to evaluate the nature and extent of a hazardous substance release, prevent exposure and minimize consequences.
     Further information about Community Right-To-Know, Superfund and hazardous substance release notification requirements may be obtained by calling the U.S. EPA's toll-free number at  800-424-9346.