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US explosives company pays penalty for environmental violations

22nd November 2013

  

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US-based explosives and blasting services provider Dyno Nobel has agreed to pay a $257 167 civil penalty to settle what the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said are violations of three different federal laws.

The EPA alleged that the company violated the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) at its manufacturing facilities in Louisiana and Carthage, in Missouri.

The EPA revealed in a statement that inspections of the two facilities in 2010 revealed the CAA violations, which resulted in the issuing of an Administrative Compliance Order in January 2011 by EPA Region 7, which services the US states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, as well as nine Native American tribal nations.

Neither of Dyno Nobel’s risk management programmes fully complied with all regulatory requirements. Federal risk management programme (RMP) regulations require facilities to have processes in place to safely store and handle hazardous chemicals.

The EPA said that, in addition to the RMP violations, Dyno Nobel failed to immediately notify the National Response Center, the State Emergency Response Commission and the Local Emergency Response Committee of an accidental release of sulphuric acid that occurred at the Carthage facility on May 9, 2012, violating both CERCLA and EPCRA regulations.

An EPA incident report on the spill noted that 3 473 of dinitrated sulphuric acid spilled on the ground while the acid was being loaded into a railroad tank car.

Questions and requests from the EPA for comment from the company were referred to Dyno Nobel’s parent company, Australia-based chemicals producer Incitec Pivot.

“The company has worked with federal authorities to address and expeditiously resolve the matters at the Carthage and Louisiana plants, in Missouri,” said a Dyno Nobel spokesperson, adding that the company fully cooperated with federal authorities to resolve the matter.

The company says it works diligently to meet all regulations implemented by federal and state regulators in connection with the manufacturing, storage and usage requirements for its industrial chemical products. “More importantly, safety of people and the community is a core value of the business and Dyno Nobel continues to devote significant resources to ensuring the safety of its manufacturing operations,” added the spokesperson.

The EPA said the Louisiana facility stored about 725 747 kg of anhydrous ammonia, or 160 times the threshold quantity. The facility also stored about 680 388 kg of nitric acid, or 100 times the threshold quantity.

The Carthage facility stored about 190 055 kg of nitric acid, equivalent to 27 times the threshold quantity, 36 287 kg of anhydrous ammonia, equivalent to eight times the threshold quantity, and 102 058 kg of oleum, equivalent to 22 times the threshold quantity.

Anhydrous ammonia is a toxic chemical and short-term exposure to high concentrations can be fatal, as nitric acid is highly corrosive, which means that it causes severe burns, leading to death.

Oleum reacts like a strong acid and, as a liquid, causes severe skin and eye burn.

“This agency works hard to ensure that firms storing and handling these potentially dangerous chemicals follow the laws designed to keep employees and neighbouring communities safe. “It is important to take the required safety precautions,” says EPA region administrator Karl Brooks.

“This second substantial administrative penalty for Dyno Nobel operations in the Great Plains area of Missouri signals that the EPA intends to remain vigilant in enforcing laws intended to protect public health and safety,” he adds.

Dyno Nobel settled a similar Chemical Accident Prevention Provisions case with EPA Region 8 in 2011 for $110 900.

EPA Region 8 serves the US states of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming, as well as 27 Native American tribal nations.

The EPA said that, by agreeing to the settlement with the EPA, Dyno Nobel has certified that it is now in compliance with all requirements of the CAA, EPCRA, and CERCLA regulations.

Edited by Samantha Herbst
Creamer Media Deputy Editor

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