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In Settlement with EPA, Syracuse Company Will Buy Emergency Response Equipment for Local Fire Department

Release Date: 10/09/2001
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(#01123) New York, N.Y. -- In a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of charges it failed to file chemical emergency data with local and state emergency responders, G&C Food Distributors & Brokers has agreed to purchase $20,000 worth of emergency response equipment for the City of Syracuse Fire Department, including a boat and motor. This supplemental environmental project (SEP) was made possible through an innovative EPA penalty policy that gives companies settling with the agency on certain environmental violations the option to undertake projects that will benefit human health and the environment. The cost of the projects can offset a portion of the monetary penalty EPA requires from violators. G&C will also pay a $13,000 cash penalty as part of the settlement.

"EPA’s policy of allowing some companies to undertake environmental projects as part of a settlement can be the silver lining of a violation," said William J. Muszynski, EPA Acting Regional Administrator. "We are pleased that the settlement of this case will benefit the Syracuse Fire Department, local residents and the environment, and expect G&C to adhere to all emergency reporting requirements in the future."

EPA inspected the G&C facility at 245 Tex Simone Drive in Syracuse in April 1999 to determine the company’s compliance with regulations of the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA). EPA charged that G&C failed to submit to the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), the State Emergency Response Commission for the State of New York (SERC) and the local fire department a Material Safety Data Sheet for ammonia or to list ammonia as a chemical it kept on-site with these entities. Both the LEPC and SERC are bodies comprised of elected and local officials, law enforcement, firefighters, health, environment, transportation and hospital representatives, the media, community groups and representatives from facilities like G&C that are subject to EPCRA regulations. The LEPC and SERC create emergency plans and keep records on all facilities that have over an EPA-established threshold amount of certain chemicals (including ammonia) on their premises. The threshold amount for reporting ammonia is 500 lbs. The company had approximately 9,000 lbs. of ammonia on-site at the time of the inspection. EPA also charged that G&C did not report timely information to the LEPC, SERC and fire department about the types and locations of hazardous chemicals at its facility for 1997, 1998 and 1999. This information is also required under EPCRA and must be updated annually. G&C has certified to EPA that it is currently is compliance with all of the applicable reporting requirements of EPCRA.

In settlement with the agency, the company agreed to purchase a boat, motor, trailer and associated equipment for the City of Syracuse Fire Department. The Fire Department will use the equipment to respond to emergencies in and along Onondaga Lake and connecting rivers. G&C will not spend less than $20,000 on the emergency response equipment, and will send a report to EPA once the purchase is made itemizing all costs and showing receipts.