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EPA fines Emerald Services, Inc. over $38,000 for Hazardous Chemical Release

Release Date: 11/22/2006
Contact Information: Suzanne Powers, (360) 753-9475, powers.suzanne@epa.gov Stephanie Mairs, (206) 553-7359, mairs.stephanie@epa.gov Tony Brown, (206) 553-1203, brown.anthony@epa.gov

Company agrees to provide nearly $70,000 in equipment for Tacoma’s Fire Department and Environmental Services Source Control Division.

(Tacoma, WA – Nov. 22, 2006) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered Emerald Services, Inc. (Emerald) to pay over $38,000 for releasing approximately 1,697 pounds of toluene, a hazardous substance, into a storm sewer at their hazardous waste treatment and storage facility in Tacoma, Washington on August 30, 2005.

Emerald failed to report the chemical release to the National Response Center until after the toluene ignited, setting off multiple explosions, on September 13, 2005.

In addition to the penalty, Emerald has also agreed to perform a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) which will provide $31,585 worth of emergency response equipment to the City of Tacoma Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Bureau, as well as $37,980 worth of equipment to the City of Tacoma’s Environmental Services Source Control Division for use in tracking information about discharges from industrial facilities to the city’s pretreatment facility.

“These laws were established to help communities like Tacoma to be better prepared to respond to chemical accidents like the one that occurred at Emerald Services, Inc,” said Mike Bussell, Director of EPA’s Office of Compliance & Enforcement in Seattle. “They also help reduce the likelihood and severity of accidental chemical release that could harm the public and the environment.”

The toluene release and the failure to notify appropriate agencies are violations of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).Toluene is considered an extremely hazardous substance and is listed as a hazardous substance under CERCLA.

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