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St. Albans, VT Settles Chemical Risk Planning Case With EPA; Will Pay $10,000 Fine and Eliminate Chlorine Use at Wastewater Plant

Release Date: 05/01/2003
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has reached a settlement with the City of St. Albans, VT over inadequate emergency preparedness plans at its wastewater treatment plant. The city will pay a pay a $10,521 penalty and complete a project to eliminate a major source of hazardous chemicals at the plant.

St. Alban's wastewater treatment plant used large amounts of chlorine, a highly toxic and extremely hazardous chemical. An accidental release of chlorine gas could affect large numbers of residents living near the facility.

The federal Clean Air Act requires facilities that use or store hazardous materials to prepare and implement Risk Management Plans (RMPs) to prevent accidental hazardous chemical releases and minimize the consequences of accidental releases that do occur.

EPA's complaint alleges that St. Albans failed to file an adequate Risk Management Plan as required. The plan, which was filed late by St. Albans in March 2000, mis-categorized the facility and therefore lacked several important components, including an alternative release scenario and a release prevention program. Additionally, an EPA audit and compliance inspection in September 2001 documented several safety deficiencies at the plant.

Under the settlement announced today, the city will pay a $10,521 penalty and complete a supplemental environmental project to convert the wastewater treatment plant's chlorine disinfection system to a more benign sodium hypochlorite disinfection system, thereby eliminating chlorine use at the facility. The project will cost at least $70,000.

"The city has taken a great step for its residents by undertaking the project to eliminate chorine use," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "At a time of heightened concern about potential terrorist attacks, it is important for facilities with hazardous chemicals to be ready for any emergency. It is even better to use a less toxic chemical as St. Albans has committed to doing."

Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorism attack, EPA New England has aggressively enforced the federal laws and regulations that improve the safety of facilities, like water treatment plants, that use, handle, produce or store hazardous chemicals. In addition, EPA New England has held numerous workshops to educate operators of water treatment plants about how to protect their facilities from potential attacks.