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EPA fines Phoenix company $12,000 for failing to report storage of an extremely hazardous chemical

Release Date: 9/23/2003
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, (415) 947-4248

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today fined a Phoenix trucking and warehouse storage company $12,000 for failing to report to the appropriate local and state authorities the amount the facility was storing of an extremely hazardous chemical, a violation of the federal emergency planning and community-right-to-know law.

Price Intermodal Southwest LLC was storing approximately 40,000 pounds of sodium azide at its 6602 W. Grant St. facility. The reportable quantity for sodium azide is 500 pounds.

"Facilities that store hazardous chemicals have a responsibility to provide prompt and accurate information about the chemicals they're storing," said Keith Takata, the EPA's Superfund division director for the Pacific Southwest. "Without this information, state and local emergency responders cannot be adequately prepared to protect our communities in the event of a chemical release."

Sodium azide, classified by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration as an extremely hazardous chemical, will explode when heated and can react with metals and some acids to form shock-sensitive explosive compounds. The substance can be absorbed into the body by inhalation, through the skin and by ingestion, causing irritation and nervous system effects.

The company reported five months late and only in response to an EPA investigation.

Federal law requires that the owner or operator of a regulated facility to annually submit by March 1 a complete hazardous chemical inventory to the local and state emergency response commission and to the local fire department when the amount exceeds a specific quantity.