EPA notifies Dow of clean-air and hazardous waste violations
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 today notified Dow Chemical Co. that it has found potential clean-air and hazardous waste violations at the company’s Midland, Mich., facility.
EPA issued a finding of violation under the Clean Air Act and a notice of violation under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. It also issued requests for information under both acts.
“The issuance of these notices and requests for information shows that the agency takes seriously its responsibility of protecting human health and the environment,” said Regional Administrator Mary A. Gade. “Our investigation of this very large facility spanned eight weeks over a two-year period and included personnel from EPA’s National Enforcement Investigation Center. Today’s actions are a product of that investigation.”
EPA alleges Dow violated the Clean Air Act by, among other things, failing to follow regulations aimed at detecting and repairing leaks, as well as failing to conduct a required stack test. Dow was also allegedly found to be in violation of multiple Resource Conservation and Recovery Act requirements for managing hazardous waste.
These are preliminary findings of violations. To resolve them, EPA may issue a compliance order, assess an administrative penalty or bring suit against the company. Dow has 30 days from receipt of the notice to meet with EPA to discuss resolving the allegations.
EPA said Dow’s alleged clean-air violations may have increased public exposure to organic hazardous air pollutant emissions including, but not limited to, ethyl chloride, toluene, ethylene, perchloroethylene, methanol and hydrogen chloride. Hazardous air pollutants may cause serious health effects including birth defects and cancer and may also cause harmful environmental and ecological effects. These pollutants are also volatile organic compounds and are major precursors of ground-level ozone (smog).
Smog is formed when a mixture of pollutants react on warm, sunny days. Smog can cause respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain. People with asthma, children and the elderly are especially at risk, but these health concerns are important to everyone.
Hazardous wastes have properties that make them dangerous or potentially harmful to human health and the environment. They exhibit at least one of four characteristics - flammability, corrosivity, reactivity or toxicity. They can be liquids, solids, contained gases or sludges and can be products of manufacturing processes or simply discarded commercial products like cleaning fluids or pesticides.
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