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Hazardous Chemical Release Roundup: EPA Settles Two Violations; Announces Three New Cases
Wednesday September 27, 1:38 pm ET

CHICAGO, Sept. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- EPA Region 5 has recently settled cases involving late notification of a hazardous chemical release with Associated Milk Producers, New Ulm, Minn., and Millennium Inorganic Chemicals, Ashtabula, Ohio. New cases were filed involving facilities in Alsip, Ill., Rochester, Minn., and Cleveland, Ohio.

"Federal law requires notification to local authorities of hazardous chemical releases," said Richard Karl, Regional EPA Superfund Division Director. "Emergency responders need to know what they are dealing with so they can take steps to protect people living or working in the area."

Associated Milk Producers, 315 Broadway, New Ulm, paid $20,000 to resolve EPA's January 2006 complaint for failure to immediately notify the National Response Center of a 3,873-pound anhydrous ammonia release during a fire at the facility Dec. 1, 2004. EPA alleged that the company did not contact the NRC for more than five hours after it knew of the release. A required follow-up report was also filed late, 80 days after the release.

Anhydrous ammonia is commonly used in commercial refrigeration systems. The chemical causes burns to the skin and irritation to the eyes, nose and throat and may be fatal if inhaled for long periods of time. Anhydrous ammonia releases greater than 100 pounds must be immediately reported.

Millennium Inorganic Chemicals, 2426 Middle Road, Ashtabula, Ohio, paid $74,568 to resolve EPA's May 2006 complaint for failure to promptly report an 88-pound chlorine release to the NRC. The release occurred when two valves were left open while connecting a railcar containing chlorine to a chemical process operation. EPA alleges that the company did not contact the NRC for more than two hours after it knew of the release. (The state emergency response commission was notified 39 minutes after the release.) Previously, Millennium paid $10,750 and donated $24,036 in equipment to the local fire department to resolve an EPA citation in November 2004 for failure to promptly report a 61-pound chlorine release. Under the same 2004 settlement, the company also paid $39,175 to resolve a 99-pound release of chlorine from a neighboring Millennium facility.

Chlorine is a gas that reacts explosively with many common chemicals. It causes headaches, nausea, choking and burns the respiratory system if inhaled. When inhaled in large volumes, it may be fatal. Chlorine releases greater than 10 pounds must be immediately reported.

In a new case, EPA proposed a $20,150 fine against Coca-Cola Enterprises, 12200 S. Laramie, Alsip, Ill. The facility was cited for failure to promptly report a 563-pound release of anhydrous ammonia to the NRC on March 20, 2006. The NRC was notified more than three hours after the incident. The chemical was released from a faulty weld point on a refrigeration system on the roof of the building.

In the second new case, EPA proposed a $41,250 fine against Marigold Foods, 406 N. Broadway, Rochester, Minn. The company, operated by Kemps LLC, was cited for failure to promptly report a 700-pound release of anhydrous ammonia to the NRC and the Minnesota Emergency Response Commission on May 9, 2003. Both agencies were notified more than seven hours after the incident. The release occurred when a fan motor broke off a mounting bracket and cut open a hole in an evaporator coil attached to the facility's refrigeration system.

In the third new case, EPA proposed a $28,340 fine against ISG Cleveland, 3060 Eggers Ave., Cleveland, Ohio. The company was cited for failure to promptly report a 1,271-pound release of sodium hypochlorite to the NRC on April 24, 2006. The release was discovered during a routine inspection by a water treatment consultant hired by the facility.

Sodium hypochlorite is a chlorine-based liquid or gas, often used as a disinfectant and bleaching agent. It causes burns to the skin, respiratory tract and eyes. Sodium hypochlorite releases greater than 100 pounds must be immediately reported.

Under Federal law, facilities cited by EPA have 30 days to answer the complaint and may request a meeting to discuss settlement.

Source: U.S. EPA Region 5

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