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EPA, Costco settlement benefits local fire department

Release Date: 6/30/2003
Contact Information: Suzanne Powers
(360) 753-9475

June 30, 2003

Sumner Fire Department will get $42,103 in new emergency response equipment as part of agreement between EPA and Costco for emergency reporting violations

The Seattle office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that warehouse retailer Costco has agreed to pay penalties and purchase emergency response equipment for the local fire department for violations of the Emergency Planning and Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) at the company’s regional refrigerated warehouse in Sumner, Washington.

The settlement requires Costco to pay a cash penalty of $10,543, and purchase $42,103 in new emergency response equipment and training materials for the Sumner Fire Department. The new equipment will include a defibrillator and a thermal imager, which allows firefighters to locate people in situations where thick smoke limits visibility.

EPCRA requires facilities to submit an inventory of substantial quantities of hazardous chemicals to the State Emergency Response Commission, the Local Emergency Planning Committee, and the local fire department. Emergency responders rely on this information for their safety and that of nearby residents in the event of an emergency. The information can also be accessed by citizens who want to know what chemicals are being stored and used in their neighborhoods.

Costco failed to report significant quantities of anhydrous ammonia (used in refrigeration), sulfuric acid, and lead at its Sumner facility to appropriate authorities.

“Costco has been extremely cooperative throughout the process,” said EPA spokesperson Bill Dunbar, “We’re pleased we were able to come together and create a positive outcome by getting much needed supplies to the emergency responders in the community.”