Two Massachusetts Seafood Companies Face Penalties for Hazardous Chemical Violations
Two seafood processing and freezing company located in Fall River, Mass. face monetary penalties for federal Emergency Planning and Community-Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) violations. EPA issued complaints on July 15, 2008 against Raw Seafoods, Inc. and Arctic Cold Storage Corporation alleging failure to provide local and state emergency responders with important information about the hazardous substances that the companies use at their facilities.
Based on an inspection conducted in March 2007, EPA determined that Raw Seafoods had failed to file with state and local authorities a chemical inventory, also known as a Tier II form, for calendar year 2006 for sulfuric acid and nitrogen. Sulfuric acid is an extremely hazardous substance that the company had onsite in excess of the threshold level of 500 pounds. Nitrogen is a hazardous chemical that was stored at the facility in excess of the 10,000 pound threshold. Raw Seafoods, Inc. faces a penalty of up to $17,100 for the one-year violation.
At an inspection of the Arctic Cold Storage Corporation’s facility on the same day, EPA determined that the company had failed to file Tier II forms for three calendar years—2004, 2005 and 2006—for ammonia, sulfuric acid and lead. Ammonia and sulfuric acid are extremely hazardous substances that were present at the facility in excess of 500 pounds, and lead was stored at the facility in excess of 10,000 pounds. Arctic Cold Storage faces a penalty of up to $20,100 for the three violations.
Lack of Tier II information can compromise proper emergency planning and response by the state emergency response commission (SERC), local emergency planning committee (LEPC) and the local fire department. Failure of a facility to file Tier II forms also deprives the community of its right to know about chemicals present in the neighborhood.
These enforcement actions will help ensure that the local community and emergency response personnel are provided with information about dangerous chemicals present in the community.
EPCRA was enacted by Congress in 1986 to provide greater protection of the public from chemical emergencies and dangers through public disclosure by business and industry of the chemicals they store, use, and release. EPCRA was passed in the wake of the 1984 Bhopal, India chemical release disaster, which killed 3,000 people and injured many more, and a toxic release from a West Virginia chemical plant less than a year later.
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