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Connecticut Chemical Distributor Agrees to Pay $164,000 for Clean Air and Right-to-Know Violations

Release Date: 03/17/2011
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – Mar. 17, 2011) – A company that blends commercial alcohols and stores chemicals for sale and distribution in Brookfield, Conn., has agreed to pay $164,109 to settle claims it violated federal Clean Air Act requirements meant to prevent chemical releases as well as federal community right-to-know laws.

According to a complaint filed Dec. 30 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Pharmco Products failed to submit to EPA a risk management plan, known as an RMP, for its sporadic storage of pentane in violation of the Clean Air Act. In addition, Pharmco failed to alert emergency responders of the presence of more than two dozen chemicals and file Toxic Release Inventory reports for four chemicals, in violation of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

The discovery of violations at Pharmco and a few other chemical warehouses in New England has led to a broader effort to inspect and ensure compliance at warehouses storing chemicals. Pharmco is one of several chemical warehouses or distribution companies in New England that have been found violating environmental law, and more enforcement actions are expected.

Pharmco was cooperative at all stages of EPA’s investigation and enforcement. To address the violations, Pharmco has come into compliance and has put into place a sophisticated inventory management system that should help prevent Pharmco from exceeding the regulatory thresholds of chemicals that are subject to the RMP regulations. The improved inventory system should also help the company accurately report its chemicals to emergency responders and the public, in compliance with the federal right-to-know law.

The need for better inventory management has been one of the key lessons learned from EPA’s chemical warehouse inspections. Chemical inventories can shift on almost a daily basis at these facilities. Accurate inventory tracking is crucial for compliance.

By inspecting chemical warehouses across New England, EPA New England learned that there are several areas where improvement is needed almost across the board. Although the Pharmco facility seemed relatively safe, the lack of reporting was not safe, and there have been real safety deficits at other warehouses EPA New England inspected.

Other lessons learned include the following (many of which are not applicable to Pharmco’s facility): incompatible materials should be appropriately separated; buildings should be structurally sound for storing flammable chemicals and equipped with the proper fire protections; secondary containment systems, tanks, drums and containers holding chemicals should be in good repair; and companies storing and distributing large quantities of chemicals must coordinate well with local emergency responders.

More information:

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

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

- EPCRA requirements (www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/epcra/index.htm) and (www.epa.gov/tri)

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