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EPA Settles Right to Know Case With Naugatuck, Conn. Company; Agreement Includes $1.3 Million for Environmental Projects
Release Date: 10/11/2001
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, EPA Press Office (617) 918-1013
BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Boston today announced a settlement with a Naugatuck, Conn. manufacturing company for not properly disclosing what hazardous materials it uses or reporting chemical releases from its plant, both of which are violations of the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA).
Under the terms of the settlement, Crompton Manufacturing will pay a civil cash penalty of $81,321. In addition, Crompton is spending a total of at least $1,330,800 on voluntary supplemental environmental projects to reduce the likelihood of future chemical releases from the plant.
During an EPA visit to Crompton plant at 280 Elm St. on Aug.19, 1998, inspectors learned that approximately 62 pounds of methylenedianiline, or MDA, had been released into the nearby Naugatuck River by Crompton through an offsite municipal wastewater treatment plant that itself is not permitted to receive or dump such waste. The discharges happened on May 22 and 23, 1998.
MDA is a chemical which can cause jaundice, weakness, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills in humans. It can also cause irritation to the skin and eyes.
Under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, (CERCLA), any release of more than 10 pounds of MDA requires an immediate notification to the National Pollution Response Center as well as to state and local emergency planning offices. Crompton made no such notification.
During the inspection, EPA also learned that 70,823 pounds of ortho-xylene had been released into the air through Crompton's primary wastewater treatment plant on 32 days between Feb. 23 and March 29, 1998. Calculations showed that approximately 2,213 pounds were released, on average, during each of these 32 days. CERCLA requires that release of more than 1,000 pounds of ortho-xylene be immediately reported to the National Response Center as well as state and local officials. Again, Crompton failed to give timely notification to environmental or emergency officials.
Ortho-xylene is flammable and is a toxic that can cause organs damage and nervous system disorders. It can irritate the eyes, nose and throat. Inhalation of high levels can cause headache, dizziness, fatigue, shivering, staggering, and death. It may also cause a burning sensation, blistering, drying and cracking of the skin.
Crompton does not have a state or federal permit to discharge either MDA or ortho-xylene.
EPA conducted follow-up inspections on Dec. 14 and 15, 1998. During these inspections, EPA also learned that the company used two chemicals – a nickel compound and 1,3 phenylenediamine – in 1997 that should have been reported to EPA and Connecticut environmental officials on a toxic release inventory. Crompton failed to make that notification.
"By failing to fulfill its requirements under the Right to Know Act, Crompton has deprived the local community of critical information," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "People living in Naugatuck and surround area have a right to know what toxics and hazardous materials that companies operating nearby are using so they can ensure that their health and environmental safety are not endangered."
As a result of these violations, Crompton has voluntarily agreed to undertake projects which will minimize the likelihood of further releases from its plants. One such project is the construction and implementation of a controlled storage and pumping system for ortho-xylene at its plant. It is estimated that Crompton will pay at least $142,000 to construct the new system.
In addition, the company has already voluntarily undertaken a number of other supplement environmental projects as part of this settlement, including:
- the installation of mass flow meters;
- the installation of waste separation tank;
- improvements to its MDA and ortho-xylene handling process improvements;
- implementation of a plantscape project.
EPA believes that the projects that Crompton has implemented will significantly reduce chemical emissions into the environment. EPA is pleased that Crompton has voluntarily undertaken swift steps to address it's non-compliance with the Federal reporting regulations.
EPCRA was enacted to provide citizens with a right to know about chemicals in their communities. It require facilities to immediately notify emergency responders of accidental releases so that they can evaluate the need for a response action. Accidental releases of hazardous chemicals have the potential to cause acute and tragic adverse effects. Without timely knowledge of a release, emergency responder going to a chemical emergencies cannot do their job – that is, working with industry to prevent or mitigate actual or potential harm to human health and the environment following a release of a hazardous chemical.
EPA's Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office, and their regional and state counterparts, have prepared and disseminated information related to EPCRA and Section 112(r) of the CAA. This information can be found at epa.gov/ceppo