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U.S. EPA fines LA Water and Power $42,284 for failing to notify authorities of a hazardous chemical release
Release Date: 3/23/2004
Contact Information: Francisco Arcaute, U.S. EPA (213) 452-3378
LOS ANGELES - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power $42, 284 for failing to immediately report authorities its release of hazardous chemicals at its Symar, Calif. facility in 2002.
The facility failed to immediately notify the National Response Center and local responders on July 8, 2002 after approximately 200 pounds of chlorine was released into the air. Federal law requires companies to immediately report to federal authorities any releases of chlorine over 10 pounds, requires immediate reporting of such releases to state and local response authorities, and also requires written follow-up notification, providing more details about the release as soon as practicable.
LA DWP violated all three of these requirements.
"Failing to immediately report hazardous releases puts communities at risk and weakens the EPA's ability to respond to and assist first responders in handling chemical incidents in their communities," said Keith Takata, the Superfund Division director for the EPA's Pacific Southwest office. "Companies working with toxic chemicals have a responsibility to their employees and the surrounding neighborhood to report these releases."
The facility uses chlorine for chlorination of reservoir water prior to it entering the distribution network. A leak occurred during transfer of chlorine from a delivery truck to a bulk storage tank at the facility.
Chlorine is a greenish-yellow gas, a chemical commonly used to kill harmful bacteria in drinking water. Exposure to chlorine can cause coughing and breathing problems. Long term complications from chlorine exposure include chronic bronchitis.
Federal law requires immediate notification of a reportable release in order for emergency response teams to evaluate the nature and extent of a hazardous substance release, prevent exposure and minimize consequences. Once notified, the National Response Center engages federal support of state and local emergency response activities.
Further information about Community Right-To-Know and hazardous substance release notification requirements may be obtained by calling the U.S. EPA's toll-free number at 1-800-535-0202 or online at https://www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/federal/epcra.html