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EPA to Test for Toxics in Pocatello

Release Date: 12/22/1997
Contact Information: Jim McCormick
mccormick.jim@epamail.epa.gov
(206) 553-0775 or (800) 424-4372


December 22, 1997 - - - - - - - - 97-79


NEWS ADVISORY
EPA will be taking air samples tomorrow (Tuesday) around the FMC phosphorous plant in Pocatello, Idaho, to determine if there is any danger from emissions of hydrogen cyanide and phosphine gas given off by two waste ponds at the plant.

As they take samples in and around the plant and also in the surrounding community, the members of the EPA field crew will be wearing respirators, even though there have been no reports of adverse health effects by either FMC workers or by residents of the community. FMC has reported to EPA that the concentrations of hydrogen cyanide and phosphine gas meet OSHA worker protection standards. One of the purposes of the EPA sampling effort is to verify the report from FMC.

The sampling is expected to be completed by the end of the day tomorrow. Results of the EPA sampling may be available as early as Wednesday.

If it's found that the concentrations of the hydrogen cyanide and phosphine gas present a hazard to FMC workers or to community residents, EPA and FMC will take steps to deal with the danger.

The EPA sampling tomorrow is intended to address concerns expressed by local citizens that the hydrogen cyanide and phosphine gas emissions from the waste ponds posed a threat to human health. The concerns were voiced in the aftermath of disclosures made by FMC earlier this month that -- because of a change in waste disposal practices at the plant -- the ponds were emitting into the air each day more than 500 pounds of hydrogen cyanide and more than 100 pounds of phosphine gas.
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