News Releases from Region 09
EPA requires TIMET to improve chemical safety at Henderson facility
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency settled with Titanium Metals Corporation (TIMET), one of the world’s largest producers of titanium products, over violations of federal chemical safety and release reporting requirements following a 2012 chlorine release at its Henderson, Nev. facility. The company has agreed to pay a $500,000 civil penalty and will hire an independent auditor to assess the facility’s emergency preparedness programs and overall chemical safety.
“Chemical accident prevention is of vital importance to the community, plant workers, and first responders,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our action ensures the TIMET facility, which handles hazardous chemicals, will operate more safely.”
TIMET violated provisions of both the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act by failing to immediately notify authorities of the March 2012 chlorine release that continued unabated for several hours. Residents up to seven miles away complained about the odors. Exposure to chlorine gas can trigger headaches, bronchitis and asthma; acute exposure causes more severe respiratory effects, and can result in fatalities.
During a March 2015 inspection, EPA found that TIMET also violated the Clean Air Act’s Chemical Accident Prevention regulations by:
- Failing to design and maintain a safe facility with respect to an ammonia refrigeration system
- Failing to review and update the facility’s Risk Management Plan
- Failing to conduct periodic compliance self-audits
- Failing to ensure adequate operating procedures related to abnormal operating conditions
The Clean Air Act’s General Duty Clause requires owners and operators of certain stationary sources to design and maintain safe facilities, and minimize the consequences of releases that do occur. Facilities such as TIMET, with significant quantities of toxic substances, must develop and implement a Chemical Accident Prevention, or Risk Management, Program.
TIMET processes titanium from ore at its 108-acre manufacturing facility at the Black Mountain Industrial Complex in Henderson. TIMET, headquartered near Philadelphia, has been supplying nearly one-fifth of the world’s titanium demand since 1950. The company’s Henderson plant, in operation since 1950, is one of the largest industrial facilities in the state. TIMET is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Precision Castparts Corporation, a worldwide manufacturer of complex metal components and products based in Portland, Oregon.
Under both the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, EPA requires the immediate reporting of releases of hazardous substances to the environment above certain threshold levels.
To find information on the Clean Air Act’s General Duty Clause, visit: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2013-10/documents/gdc-fact.pdf
To find information on the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act program, visit: https://www.epa.gov/epcra/what-epcra