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U.S. EPA settles with the GATX Corporation for failing to notify authorities after 2008 ammonia release
Release Date: 10/27/2009
Contact Information: Joe Merer, 415-972-3228, firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. EPA settles with the GATX Corporation for failing to notify authorities after 2008 ammonia release - railway to pay $5000, donate $20,700 mercury analyzer
LOS ANGELES – Under the terms of a settlement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the GATX Corporation, the railway will pay a $5000 penalty and donate a $20,700 mercury analyzer for failing to immediately notify authorities of the 2008 release of ammonia at their Colton, Calif. rail car repair facility.
According to the EPA, based on information received from the San Bernardino Certified Unified Program Agency, the California Emergency Management Agency and the National Response Center, the GATX Corporation delayed reporting the release of 250 pounds of ammonia from a rail car repair facility on Sept. 9, 2008, which was caused when an employee failed to follow company procedures for flaring ammonia from a tank car.
“Companies such as the GATX Corporation may understand the importance of providing accurate and timely information about chemical releases, but they must take steps to make sure that happens, so emergency planners and responders can adequately prepare to protect their communities,” said Daniel Meer, assistant director for the EPA Pacific Southwest Region’s Superfund program.
The GATX Corporation ammonia release was first reported to the Colton Fire Department by employees of a nearby railroad facility; the San Bernardino County Fire Department was later contacted for assistance. In violation of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, the GATX Corporation failed to report the release to the National Response Center
GATX also violated the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act by failing to immediately report this release to the California Emergency Management Agency – for the State Emergency Response Commission.
Exposure to ammonia can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Lung damage and death may occur after exposure to very high concentrations of ammonia.
The GATX Corporation has since taken steps to ensure its procedures are followed and installed equipment to prevent any similar releases in the future. The railway will also donate a mercury analyzer valued at $20,700 to the San Bernardino County Fire Department as a Supplemental Environmental Project.
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act require immediate notification of the release of a reportable quantity of a hazardous substance, such as ammonia, in order to allow emergency response teams an opportunity to evaluate the nature and extent of the release, prevent exposure to the hazardous substance, and minimize consequences to public health and the environment.
For more information on the CERCLA, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/policy/cercla.htm.
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