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U.S. EPA settles case against Richmond facility for toxic releases

Release Date: 6/21/2004
Contact Information: Laura Gentile, Press Office, 415/947-4227

Company will install equipment to reduce emissions by 15,000 pounds per year

SAN FRANCISCO -- Today the BOC Group, Inc. agreed to pay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency $6,514 for allegedly failing to accurately report the amount of ammonia released from its Richmond facility, in violation of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

In addition to the penalty, the company has agreed to install pollution control equipment that may reduce ammonia emissions by up to seven and a half tons per year, which is equal to half of the ammonia that was released by the company in 2002.

"We are delighted that BOC has chosen to implement a project that will benefit public health," said Enrique Manzanilla, director of the EPA's cross media division for the Pacific Southwest. "The north Richmond community has historically faced a disproportionate amount of pollution burdens. EPA is committed to ensuring that all communities get the benefits of environmental protection."

Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia can cause severe burns on the skin, eyes, throat and lungs. Breathing low levels of ammonia can cause coughing, as well as nose and throat irritation. Ammonia also plays a role in the formation of particulate air pollution, which has been linked to numerous health problems, including chronic bronchitis and lung disease.

The Richmond facility, operated by BOC Gases, is located at 731 W. Cutting Blvd. The facility allegedly failed to accurately report the amount of ammonia that was treated on site and the amount that was released into the air in 1999, 2000 and 2001. BOC uses ammonia to manufacture gases for industrial uses.

The EPA's law requires facilities that are using chemicals over specified amounts to file annual reports of chemical releases. This information is published annually and is available to the public. This program has been credited with arming communities with valuable knowledge and encouraging facilities to reduce their releases of toxic chemicals into the environment through source reduction or pollution prevention measures.

On Thursday the EPA will be releasing its annual Toxic Releases Inventory for 2002, a report of toxic chemical releases, transfers and waste generated by facilities in the United States. Fact sheets and additional information on this report will be available at <>.