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News Releases from Region 10

EPA settles with SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, LLC, for violating federal emergency notification and reporting laws

Settlement promotes public safety by providing haz-mat equipment for Moses Lake Fire Department

Contact Information: 
Mark A. MacIntyre, Public Affairs (macintyre.mark@epa.gov)

 (Seattle, WA – May 5, 2016)  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached  settlement with SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, LLC, for violating federal emergency planning, reporting and public notification laws. The violations took place at the international company’s Moses Lake, Washington, fabrication facility and included failing to report storage of nitrogen and ammonium bicarbonate, as well as the unpermitted release of hydrogen cyanide and ammonia. 

On 10 occasions from May 2012 through June 2014, ammonia and/or hydrogen cyanide were released to the atmosphere, but SGL failed to report to the National Response Center, the local emergency planning committee and the state emergency response commission. Besides the release of these dangerous gases, SGL failed to perform timely reporting of on-site storage of chemicals for calendar years 2011, 2012, and 2013.

According to Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle, today’s settlement will have real benefits for both workers at the plant and the community.

“SGL’s settlement action will directly help the Moses Lake community by providing the Moses Lake Fire Department with upgraded hazmat response equipment.” Kowalski said “They will also perform internal improvements that should reduce or eliminate harmful releases. Failure to report dangerous chemical releases in a timely way and having stored chemicals go unreported poses a public health risk, not only at the plant, but for the local community and responders as well.”

As part of the  settlement, SGL agreed to pay a penalty of $125,000 and implement a $374,949 Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) that includes purchasing haz-mat response equipment for the Moses Lake Fire Department ($71,347) and upgrading the facility’s power outage backup system ($303,650). The new emergency power supply will eliminate the need to spontaneously vent gases when the power is interrupted to the facility.

SGL is a joint venture between the BMW Group and SGL Group that was founded in 2009 to exclusively supply carbon fiber materials to the BMW Group for the development of lightweight body panels.

By closely complying with sections 304 and 312 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA), companies like SGL provide the public and local governments with valuable information concerning potential chemical hazards present in their communities.  EPCRA Section 304 and CERCLA Section 103 require companies to immediately report unregulated releases that exceed the reportable quantity threshold.

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For more about EPCRA and Community Right-to-Know: https://www.epa.gov/epcra/what-epcra