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Taunton, Mass. Textile Company Faces Penalty for Chemical Spill

Release Date: 02/22/2006
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. - Feb. 22, 2006) – A Taunton, Mass., textile finishing company may be ordered to pay nearly $40,000 for violating federal water pollution control and chemical release notification laws during an accidental spill of hazardous chemicals last year.

According to a complaint filed recently by EPA's New England regional office, Harodite Industries, Inc., violated the Clean Water Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) after a sodium hydroxide solution spilled into the soil on March 2, 2005. Some of the sodium hydroxide then flowed into the Three Mile River, which abuts Harodite's textile finishing mill. Under the complaint, Harodite may be subject to a fine of $38,540.

Harodite reported the spill on March 7, 2005, five days after the release had occurred. Company officials said they did not discover the release until March 7, but EPA claims that, even after discovering the problem, the company's notification to both the National Response Center and the Local Emergency Planning Committee was unnecessarily delayed.

Harodite, which treats, bleaches, dyes and waterproofs fabrics, has separate above-ground storage tanks for sodium hydroxide and sodium silicate. A chemical vendor making a delivery of 2,000 gallons of sodium hydroxide solution on March 2, 2005 incorrectly attached the delivery line to an intake pipe for sodium silicate. The incoming sodium hydroxide entered the sodium silicate tank, mixed with it, and overflowed through a ventilation pipe onto the ground outside the building and then to the Three Mile River.

According to Harodite, the problem was discovered five days later when employees tried to take sodium silicate from the sodium silicate tank and found the pipes or valves to be clogged. Harodite estimated that 860 gallons of sodium hydroxide solution were released to the soil, and that 15 percent of this reached the river.

EPA inspectors visited the site on March 7, 2005 and determined that Harodite:
- discharged sodium hydroxide to the Three Mile River without a permit, in violation of the Clean Water Act;
- failed to immediately notify the National Response Center after acquiring knowledge of the release, in violation of CERCLA; and
- failed to immediately notify the Local Emergency Planning Committee, in violation of EPCRA.

“These violations are an example of the dangers of not preparing adequately,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. “It's very important that individuals and companies follow the appropriate industry practices related to bulk chemical deliveries and that they adhere to standard safety systems. If there is a problem, it's critical that the appropriate emergency responders be notified immediately to quickly address any risks to human health or the environment.”

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