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News Releases from Region 10

EPA, U.S. Department of Justice settle with P4 Production LLC, over hazardous chemical reporting requirements

Contact Information: 
Mark MacIntyre EPA-Seattle (macintyre.mark@epa.gov)

(Seattle, WA - March 26, 2015) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 and the U.S. Department of Justice have settled with P4 Productions LLC, for violations of federal Emergency Planning and Community-Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and Comprehensive Emergency Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) chemical reporting laws. As part of the settlement, the Company has agreed to pay a $600,000 combined penalty.

P4 Production LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Monsanto Corporation, owns and operates phosphate mining and processing facilities in Soda Springs, Idaho. The Company removes phosphate ore from the ground and refines this material into elemental phosphorus. Phosphorus is used to make herbicides and is also found in a range of products including fire retardants, leavening agents, aviation fluids and carbonated beverages.

Today's action was triggered by an initial inspection in 2009, which led to subsequent requests for more information as operational patterns at the facility began to emerge. The investigation revealed that the facility had actually accrued numerous violations between 2006 and 2009, including:

Failure to report uncontrolled releases of hydrogen cyanide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury.

Failure to annually report use and releases of carbonyl sulfide, phosphine, and sulfuric acid hydrogen cyanide, phosphine and sulfuric acid as part of their required Toxic Release Inventory.

Each of these chemicals are hazardous and can pose serious health risks to workers and the community if mishandled or released in an uncontrolled manner.

EPCRA Sections 304 and the CERCLA Section 103, require facilities to report releases of hazardous substances immediately if they exceed the reportable quantity. EPCRA and CERCLA aim to inform citizens, local emergency managers and first responders of toxic chemical releases in their area to allow for quick response and decision-making. EPCRA Section 313, the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), requires facilities that manufacture, process, or use toxic chemicals over certain threshold quantities file annual reports estimating the amounts released to the environment, treated or recycled on-site, or transferred off-site for waste management. Failure to report emergency chemical releases and to submit complete and accurate TRI forms are a violation of the law.

EPCRA was enacted in 1987 after the Bhopal gas tragedy, a gas leak incident in India that was considered the world's worst industrial disaster. A Union Carbide pesticide plant released methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other chemicals. Over 500,000 people were exposed to the gas, with the immediate death toll set at 2,259.

For more about EPCRA, visit: http://www2.epa.gov/epcra

For more about CERCLA, visit http://www.epa.gov/superfund/index.htm