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EPA Orders Belmont Firm to Follow Laws on Reporting and Monitoring Chromium and TCE

Release Date: 05/11/2001
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, EPA Press Office (617-918-1013)

BOSTON -- As part of a larger initiative to control hazardous pollutants released by the metal finishing industry, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered a Belmont electroplating company to come into compliance with monitoring, reporting and record-keeping requirements of the Clean Air Act.

According to an order issued today by EPA's New England Office, the Cambridge Plating Co. of Belmont has been violating regulations that govern the use of degreasing machines and chromium electroplating.

Cambridge Plating conducts electroplating and metal finishing. It operates a degreasing machine that uses trichloroethylene (TCE) to clean parts. The facility also performs hard chromium electroplating in a chromium electroplating tank that emits chromium and is subject to federal chromium standards.

TCE and chromium are both designated "hazardous air pollutants" under the Clean Air Act. Today's action stems from inspections of the Hittinger Street plant conducted in September 2000 and February 2001.

"Not only must Cambridge Plating address its recent violations, but the company must also radically change its corporate practices to avoid having repeated environmental law violations," said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator at EPA's New England Office. "EPA New England's targeted assistance program gives guidance and support to responsible metal finishers, but repeat offenders like Cambridge Plating will face enforcement actions from EPA."

Cambridge Plating has a history of noncompliance with environmental regulations, including several violations of hazardous waste laws in the past decade.

According to this week's order, Cambridge Plating failed to develop a systematic plan to ensure compliance with either the degreasing or chromium electroplating regulations of the Clean Air Act. Although Cambridge Plating installed new equipment capable of meeting the required standards, the company on numerous occasions failed to carry out the required monitoring and other steps needed to demonstrate continuous compliance.

According to the order, Cambridge Plating must now follow reporting requirements that are more extensive than the minimum requirements set out in EPA's regulations, such as reporting monthly on its compliance with TCE standards.

"Because of Cambridge Plating's failure to adequately keep track of its emissions over the past several years, EPA New England is requiring the company to go above and beyond the minimum reporting requirements," Leighton said. "In this way, the public can be assured that a close watch will be kept on the hazardous pollutants."

The company was ordered to report in advance any planned change in its strategies for complying with the TCE regulations and to follow the standards set out in the Clean Air Act regarding reporting and monitoring for chromium emissions.

The complaint against Cambridge Plating is part of a larger effort by EPA to offer assistance to companies that clean or finish metal and to educate them on relevant environmental regulations.

Much of the work with the metal industry is being done through EPA's Metal Finishing Strategic Goals Program, a three-year-old program that is encouraging metal finishers to meet aggressive pollution reduction goals by the year 2002. The national program was launched in partnership with industry groups, environmental groups and state and local regulators.

EPA efforts to control pollution by the metal finishing industry stems in part from regulations enacted in the 1990s to regulate emissions of chromium, trichloroethylene and other toxic chemicals.

More information on federal regulations and how to prevent pollution is available by calling EPA's Office of Assistance and Pollution Prevention or by visiting EPA New England's web site at: