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GE To Upgrade Municipal Emergency Response Units and Pay $92,000 Fine For Violating EPA Toxic Release Reporting Regulations

Release Date: 03/09/1998
Contact Information:

(#98018) NEW YORK, N.Y. -- In a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for past violations of federal reporting requirements for toxic releases at its silicone manufacturing plant in Waterford, New York, the General Electric Company (GE) has agreed to pay for improvements in local emergency response and pay a $92,000 fine.

Under the Emergency Planning and Community-Right-To-Know Act, facilities must report toxic emissions to federal and state agencies. EPA cited GE for twenty-three violations between 1991 and 1996 when toxic releases were unreported or under-reported. Among the chemicals involved were dimethyl sulfate, chlorine, 1,1,1,-trichloroethane, ammonia and toluene.

GE's non-compliance problems were revealed during the course of an EPA multi-media inspection of the Waterford facility silicone plant that started in May 1996 and continued for several weeks with the assistance of the Agency's National Enforcement Investigation Center based in Denver, Colorado. Once EPA's investigation was underway, GE disclosed the violations and promptly corrected them.

EPA Regional Administrator Jeanne M. Fox said, "We are very pleased that this settlement will result in a tangible benefit to the communities surrounding the GE plant. GE has been cooperative during the investigation. Nonetheless, our findings underline the need for improvement in the way the Waterford facility performs its community right-to-know obligations under federal law." Under the terms of the agreement, GE will spend about $112,000 in upgrades to improve emergency response capability in the communities surrounding the Waterford plant. The purchases will assist and enhance:

the Waterford Fire Department's ability to respond to confined spaces and spill control emergencies and water rescues;
the Waterford Police Department's overall communication with fire and EMS personnel at any emergency scene;
the Waterford Rescue Squad's pre-planning and response to hazmat incidents by adding a computer with a CAMEO program;
the Waterford Peck Fire Station's water rescue and hazmat identification abilities;
the Halfmoon Fire Department's soon-to-be-activated decontamination hazmat team;
the Troy Fire Department hazmat team's ability to communicate with working crews;
the West Albany Fire Department hazmat team's supply of personnel protective equipment to reduce hazmat threats;
the Albany Fire Department Hazmat Team's air monitoring capability and ability to reduce hazmat threats with new ventilation equipment;
the Schenectady County Hazmat Team's mobile information gathering capability using a new laptop computer with the CAMEO program;
the Green Island Fire Department's personnel air supply when responding to all incidents;
the Saratoga County Emergency Services' planning with new computer work stations, personnel air supplies, communication with GE and interfacing with the new county communication system using new radios, and a new dispatch center; and,
the Albany, Albany Airport, Watervliet, Cohoes and Town of Colonie Fire Departments' air monitoring for air hazards identification and incident investigation.

For more information contact:

Rich Cahill, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3666 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: cahill.richard@epamail.epa.gov