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News Releases from Region 10

Northstar Casteel Products agrees to second EPA settlement in four years over federal Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) violations

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

(Seattle, WA – June 8, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has settled with North Star Casteel Products, Inc. (North Star), a foundry located in Seattle, Washington for violations of the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) chemical reporting requirements of the Emergency Planning and Community-Right-To-Know Act.  As part of today’s agreement, North Star will pay a $133,900 penalty.

North Star is a foundry that manufactures metal castings to meet customer alloy and shape specifications. According to the Company, Northstar sells products to “manufacturers and end users seeking strong, ductile, heat resistant, and wear-resistant ferrous castings.”  The facility is located next to the I-5 freeway, just south of downtown, in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood.

North Star is required to submit TRI reports to EPA every year by July 1. The TRI reports document the quantity of toxic chemicals released during the previous calendar year. The Toxics Release Inventory is an important tool for community members and others to use to get data about pollutants in their communities. By failing to report pollution releases to the Inventory, North Star deprived community members of timely and accurate data about the environmental health of their community.

According to Ed Kowalski, director of EPA’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle, the facility’s compliance track record is less-than-stellar. Following a facility inspection in April, 2011, EPA and North Star agreed to settle in July 2012, for North Star’s failure to report chemical releases for the previous five years for which the facility paid an $87,000 penalty. Despite the settlement and EPA’s repeated emails and phone calls, the facility again failed to report for toxic chemicals released in 2012.

EPA then issued a Notice-of-Violation (NOV) to the company in 2014 - ahead of the July 1 reporting deadline - but the facility failed to report for releases in 2012 and 2013. EPA inspected the facility on March 10, 2015, in advance of the July 1, 2015 deadline, but the facility failed to report releases that occurred in 2014 as well. Only after EPA informed North Star of its intention to file an Administrative Complaint did the company file the delinquent reports.

“This facility resisted all of EPA’s efforts to bring them back into compliance. A large penalty was the only way to get their attention,” said EPA’s Kowalski “This case also is the object of increased EPA scrutiny because it borders some economically-challenged communities with existing environmental concerns.”

EPA enforcement personnel used the Agency’s new EJ SCREEN tool to evaluate the environmental burdens borne by the surrounding south Seattle communities and to understand the potential impacts of this facility on the community. This tool complements the Toxics Release Inventory.

The Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act created the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). It requires facilities that manufacture, process, or use toxic chemicals over certain threshold quantities to 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 violations of the law.

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