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N.H. Based Manufacturing Company Faces $125K Fine for Environmental Violations in South Hadley, Mass.

Release Date: 02/28/2008
Contact Information: Paula Ballentine, (617) 918-1027

(Boston, Mass. - Feb. 28, 2008) - A Hudson, New Hampshire-based company that manufactures digital plates for the printing industry faces a combined fine of $125,678 for environmental violations related to a chemical spill at the company's South Hadley, Mass. manufacturing facility.

In an administrative complaint filed recently, EPA alleges that Presstek Inc. violated the federal Clean Air Act and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), due to a 2006 chemical release at the manufacturing facility it owns and operates in South Hadley.

On Oct. 30, 2006, 751 pounds of hydrofluoric acid, an extremely hazardous chemical, were released to the environment through a ventilation fan in the Presstek facility at about 8:00 p.m. The release caused the evacuation of approximately 90 residents living within a one-mile radius of the facility and required that the South Hadley public schools be closed as a precautionary measure the following day.

Presstek did not notify the National Response Center of the release, as required by CERCLA. Following the release, an unidentified caller notified the South Hadley Police Department of a visible plume leaving the facility.

“Late notification of a toxic release to state and federal authorities makes it much more difficult for public health and safety officials to respond effectively,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Timely reporting is especially important for facilities such as this one, where toxic materials are stored at a relatively close proximity to a residential area.”

In addition, the EPA alleges that Presstek failed to design and maintain a safe facility and did not minimize the consequences of an accidental release, violating provisions of the Clean Air Act. Insufficient safety controls and operator error were the likely cause of the release.

More Information:

- EPA's Air enforcement in New England (epa.gov/region1/enforcement/air)
- Superfund Enforcement (http://www.epa.gov/Compliance/cleanup/superfund/)

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