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New Haven Chemical Manufacturer and Distributor Pays Penalty for Environmental Violations

Release Date: 03/08/2011
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – Mar. 8, 2011) – A chemical manufacturing and distribution plant in New Haven, Conn., has agreed to pay a $12,626 penalty and to spend about $40,000 to buy emergency response equipment for the City to settle claims by the US Environmental Protection Agency that it violated federal air, water and right-to-know laws.

According to the settlement signed recently by EPA’s New England office, H. Krevit and Co. will spend at least $36,056 on emergency response equipment for the New Haven Fire Department, including fully encapsulated vapor protective suits, and detection, monitoring and metering equipment that will enable the fire department to respond to emergencies involving chemical releases more safely and effectively.

EPA alleged that H. Krevit failed to: 1) develop and put in place a risk management plan (RMP), for the storage of concentrated hydrochloric acid, in violation of Clean Air Act Section 112(r) and the chemical release prevention requirements (RMP regulations); 2) submit emergency and hazardous chemical inventory forms to local and state emergency responders, in violation of the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act; and 3) develop and implement a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan, as required by the Clean Water Act. The company, which stores chemicals in above ground tanks, sits near the Quinnipiac River. The company has corrected the violations, and was cooperative with EPA throughout the inspection and enforcement process.

H. Krevit formulates, repackages, and resells packaged water treatment chemicals. The company, which sells mainly to the water treatment and metal finishing industries, will also investigate if it can further reduce risk from its operations to the environment.

Among the hazardous chemicals used in the H. Krevit processes are hydrochloric acid, chlorine, nitric acid, sulfuric acid, sodium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite.

“Companies that handle or store hazardous chemicals have a responsibility to follow the regulations that are set up to protect the public and the environment,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “The fine should serve as a reminder to these companies of such obligations, and the equipment being purchased by H. Krevit will help ensure that the fire department is adequately prepared to address emergencies associated with chemical releases that pose a threat to the public.”

This case arises out of a series of Clean Air Act Section 112(r) inspections that EPA Region 1 has undertaken at chemical warehouse and distribution facilities in an effort to address compliance issues at such facilities. Some of the lessons learned from those investigations (many of which are not applicable to H. Krevit & Company’s facility) include the following:

• Lack of sufficient inventory management can result in failure to recognize that chemical inventories have exceeded Clean Air Act and EPCRA regulatory thresholds;

• It is important to ensure the adequate separation of incompatible materials;

• It is important to ensure that the buildings are structurally appropriate for flammable chemical storage and that they are equipped with the proper fire protections;

• Do not assume that the list of chemicals covered by OSHA Process Safety Management regulations is perfectly consistent with the list of chemicals covered by the RMP regulations;

• Companies violating the Clean Air Act often were also found to be violating EPCRA and/or hazardous waste regulations;

• Companies should ensure that secondary containment systems for chemicals (to contain spills or leaks) are in good repair, that drums are stored in a stable manner, and that there is adequate aisle space for emergency responders;

• Several companies were unaware that the Clean Air Act’s General Duty Clause can apply even when RMP regulations do not. The General Duty Clause requires companies that manage extremely hazardous substances to prevent chemical releases by, among other things, designing and maintaining a safe facility.

• Companies storing and distributing large quantities of chemicals must ensure that they have excellent coordination with local emergency responders; local fire departments had safety concerns about some facilities.

More information:

- Clean Air Act Section 112(r) RMP regulations (http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/rmp/index.htm)

- Clean Air Act Section 112(r) General Duty Clause (http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/policies/civil/caa/gdc)

- EPCRA requirements (http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/epcra/index.htm)

- SPCC plans (http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/spcc)

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