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EPA fines Alameda water district $46,000 over chemical release reporting violations

Release Date: 9/23/2004
Contact Information: Laura Gentile, 415/760-9161

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency settled a case today with the Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District Zone 7 that requires the district to pay $10,912 in fines and $35,376 in new equipment for the county fire department for chemical release reporting violations at the Del Valle Water Treatment Plant.

The water treatment facility released about 39 pounds of chlorine in September 2003 without immediately reporting the chemical release to the appropriate authorities. The release happened during the transfer of sodium hypochlorite from a delivery truck to a bulk storage tank of ferric chloride at the facility.

“It is extremely critical that all facilities report any releases of hazardous chemicals to protect the health and safety of area residents, emergency responders and the environment,” said Keith Takata, Superfund division director for the U.S. EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. “We are pleased that this settlement will provide new equipment for the Alameda County Fire Department to enhance its ability to respond to future fires and chemical releases.”

In addition to the fines, the EPA is requiring the facility to purchase three Rapid Intervention Crew Kits for the Alameda County Fire Department, which include thermal imaging camera that allow firefighters to see through heavy smoke in order to find trapped people. The cameras can also improve firefighters’ ability to discover a fire’s location, to determine liquid levels in chemical tanks, to detect vapor sources within an incident site, and to detect fires in the community, including wild land fires. In addition, the kits include equipment which makes it possible to bring a portable air supply to a trapped victim. The purchase and donation of the equipment must be completed within 60 days.

The EPA’s regulations under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act require immediate notification to the National Response Center when a hazardous chemical has been released in an amount that meets or exceeds the chemical’s reportable quantity. Immediate notification is also required by the EPA’s regulations under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act to the state emergency response commission and the appropriate local emergency planning committee concerning any release that meets or exceeds the reportable quantity of any hazardous chemical.