Environmental Enforcement Roundup: Bankrupt Company Settles CERCLA Claims; Six Fined for EPCRA Violations; Power Station Fined; Plumbing Supplier Cited; Enbridge Meeting

by | Nov 4, 2010

Environmental Leader’s daily roundup of key environmental enforcement news

Bankrupt Packaging Company Settles CERCLA Claims

The U.S. Department of Justice has lodged a proposed consent decree with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, that would resolve claims brought under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) against Smurfit Stone Container Corporation, which has filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11.

Liability under CERCLA cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the claims cover past and future response costs incurred in connection with response actions performed by EPA at the following sites:

Sauer Dump Site in Dundalk, Maryland; 68th Street Dump Site in Baltimore, Maryland; Casmalia Disposal Site near Santa Maria, California; BCX Tank Superfund Site in Jacksonville, Florida; Ward Transformer Site, Raleigh, North Carolina; and the Portland Harbor Superfund Site in Portland, Oregon.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Smurfit will distribute company stock in the amount of $15,358,174.00 for federal environmental claims—$12,358,174.00 for reimbursement to other responsible parties and $3,000,000.00 for natural resource trustee claims, for a total settlement of $30,716,348.

Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation (NYSE: SSCC) is a global paperboard and paper-based packaging company based in Creve Coeur, Mo., and Chicago, Ill.  It is the largest North American producer of container board, corrugated containers, multi-wall and specialty bags, and clay-coated recycled boxboard. It is also a leading producer of solid bleached sulfate paperboard (SBS), folding cartons, flexible packaging, labels and point-of-purchase displays, and is also one of the world’s largest paper recyclers.


Six Companies Fined for Right-to-Know Violations

Six New England companies that store, manufacture or use chemicals in their operations have been charged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with violating the federal right-to-know law meant to protect the health and safety of citizens and the nearby environment.

All six companies were charged with failing to file reports that are required by federal laws that ensure residents, as well as emergency responders, have the necessary information to protect the community and the environment.

The companies face fines ranging from just over $8,000 to nearly $139,000 for violating the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The violations involved a number of different chemicals, including sulfuric acid, nitric acid, anhydrous ammonia, styrene, methyl methacrylate, propylene, diesel fuel, lead, quench oil and zinc compounds.

“When companies that store chemicals fail to file these required forms, the community’s first responders do not have adequate information about chemicals present on a site that could be released into the neighborhood in the event of an accident,” Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office said in a press release. “Without this information, the local and state responders cannot properly plan for an emergency, and the community is deprived of information relevant to the health and safety of its residents.”

Companies charged by EPA with violating the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act were:

Cascades Boxboard Group
in Versailles, Conn.¬ – EPA has proposed that Cascades Boxboard, which is owned by Cascades Canada, pay a $138,866 penalty for six violations of EPCRA. According to EPA’s complaint, Cascades Boxboard failed to file a chemical inventory form for 2007 for sulfuric acid stored at the facility. According to EPA, Cascades Boxboard stored 57 times the minimum threshold level of 500 pounds required for reporting. The company also failed to file the required Toxic Release Inventory forms for chlorine dioxide in 2007, vinyl acetate in 2008, and nitrate compounds for 2006, 2007, and 2008.

BJ’s Wholesale Club
in Uxbridge, Mass. –BJ’s Wholesale Club has agreed to pay $27,000 to settle claims by EPA that it failed to submit the proper forms to state and local emergency officials for 2006, 2007 and 2008. According to EPA, BJ’s did not file its chemical inventory form for sulfuric acid, lead and diesel fuel, all of which were present at the facility at levels above that required for reporting. The complaint grew out of a March 2009 EPA inspection.

Scott Metal Finishing
in Bristol, Conn. – Scott Metal Finishing has agreed to pay a penalty of $11,115 to settle claims by EPA it violated chemical reporting laws. According to EPA, this commercial metal finishing facility failed to file an emergency and hazardous chemical inventory form for 2006 with local and state responders. Scott failed to file the form for nitric acid, which was present above the minimum threshold level. The case grew out of a routine inspection in July 2007.

Kalwall Corporation
, Flat Sheet Division in Bow, N.H. – Kalwall Corp., which makes fiberglass flat sheets, has agreed to pay a penalty of $25,100 to settle claims by EPA that the company failed to file Toxic Release Inventory forms for styrene, methyl methacrylate, and propylene in 2008.

The Sousa Corporation
in West Hartford, Conn. – Sousa agreed in March 2010 to pay $8,014 to settle claims by EPA that it failed to file a required chemical inventory report in 2007 with local and state and emergency officials. According to EPA, Sousa failed to report on anhydrous ammonia and quench oil, which were present above the threshold for reporting.

Highway Safety Corporation
in Glastonbury, Conn. – Highway Safety, doing business as Connecticut Galvanizing, has agreed to pay a penalty of $42,700 to settle claims by EPA that it failed to file Toxic Release Inventory forms for zinc compounds that it manufactured in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The zinc compounds are manufactured during the galvanizing process and must be reported even though they are recycled.

Sulfuric acid, a hazardous chemical, is extremely corrosive and presents significant risks from contact, including lung damage from inhalation of vapors.

Nitric acid is an extremely hazardous chemical as a result of its health risks and reactivity. It is corrosive to the skin, eyes, mucous membranes and respiratory tract. Additionally, nitric acid can cause combustible material to ignite upon contact, which may produce toxic gases.

Anhydrous ammonia is an extremely hazardous chemical and quench oil is also a hazardous chemical.

Lead presents a reactivity risk and a threat to response personal from contact, including skin and lung contact. Diesel fuel is a flammable liquid and vapor and poses health risks from contact, including skin irritation and lung damage.

Power Station Faces $177,500 in Fines for Clean Water Violations

A power station located in Holyoke, Mass. faces up to $177,500 in Clean Water Act (CWA) fines for allegedly discharging muddy storm water and other pollutants into the Connecticut River. 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Mt. Tom Generating Company, LLC violated it’s federally issued permit by exceeding permit discharge limits over a five month period of time. The company was performing construction work at the coal-fired power plant facility during this period of time. 

“It is imperative that companies who discharge their wastewaters to our waterways fully comply with applicable permit requirements,” Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office said. “EPA will continue enforcing and monitoring permit requirements that are necessary to improve water quality in our rivers, lakes and estuaries.” 

Rainwater running off construction sites can carry sediments, oil and other pollutants which contaminate nearby streams, ponds and rivers. Sediments and chemicals can also contribute to fish die-offs, toxic algae blooms, contaminated shellfish beds and closed swimming beaches.

Plumbing Supplier Cited for Illegal Refrigerant Sales

Based on the findings of an undercover inspector, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a penalty of $30,000 against a Fall River, Mass. plumbing and supply company charged with selling ozone-depleting refrigerants in violation of federal regulations.

According to EPA’s New England office, Robinson Plumbing and Heating Supply, Co. sold ozone-depleting refrigerants to non-certified technicians at two separate sales outlets in Massachusetts, in violation of the Clean Air Act.

“Vendors of refrigeration supplies have a responsibility to make sure the buyers are certified to purchase these refrigerants,” Curt Spalding, administrator of EPA’s New England office said in a prepared release. “Release of these refrigerants to the atmosphere depletes the stratospheric ozone layer, which protects us from the sun’s harmful rays.”

EPA regulations restrict the sale of ozone-depleting refrigerant to persons who are trained and certified, or otherwise properly regulated, in order to limit illegal releases that would further damage the stratospheric ozone layer.

On July 13, an undercover EPA inspector attempted to buy refrigerant at three Robinson Supply sales outlets. Although the inspector was not a certified technician, he was able to purchase refrigerant at two of the Robinson Supply outlets, in Avon and Woburn. No sale was made at Plainville.


EPA to Hold Expo and Public Meeting on Enbridge Oil Spill 


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5, joined by its government partners for the Enbridge oil spill response, will hold an expo and public meeting Nov. 8 in Battle Creek, Mich., to update residents on the status of the cleanup and the long-term role of EPA.

EPA is the federal On-Scene Coordinator for this incident. EPA will outline response activities that have been completed along with areas where operation and maintenance will continue for the foreseeable future. Presentations by EPA and its government partners will begin at 7 p.m.

At the expo, beginning at 6:30 p.m., members of the public will have a chance to look at equipment and talk with individual agencies involved in the oil spill cleanup.

EPA displays will include air monitoring equipment and data, dredging and other interactive computerized maps, photos showing the cleanup progression, and boom and pad displays, as well as a multi-media presentation on the cleanup.

Time: 7 p.m.; expo starts at 6:30 p.m.
Date: Mon., Nov. 8
Place: Burnham Brook Community Center, 200 West Michigan Ave., Battle Creek, Mich.

People who need special accommodations at the meeting should contact EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Don de Blasio, 312-343-6666.

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