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Utah metals firm faces waste fine, order

Release Date: 8/8/2000
Contact Information:
800 227 8917 x7054,

Release Date: 8/8/2000
Contact Information:
800 227 8917 x6352,

Release Date: 8/8/2000
Contact Information:
800 227 8917 x6780

      ST. GEORGE, UTAH --Alleged improper handling of hazardous waste at its Apex Plant site 15 miles west of here has drawn a complaint, order and proposed penalty from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency against specialty metals maker OMG Americas, Inc.

      EPA charges that OMG stored and disposed of wastes from its cobalt and tungsten recycling operations in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the nation's basic hazardous waste law. The 19-count complaint seeks a penalty of $1.4 million and orders a dozen or so changes to the bring the plant into compliance.

      Tons of "filter cake" -- compressed solids from filtration processes -- stored on the plant site were tainted with cadmium, chromium and mercury, regulated under RCRA. Seven of the counts, and the bulk of the penalty, involve these wastes. The Agency said the company:

      • discarded filter cake into a pond on the property from at least August 1995 until June 1999 without fully determining its hazardous content.
      • illegally disposed of hazardous wastes on its property.
      • stored wastes longer than allowed.
      • shipped hazardous wastes to a disposal facility as non-hazardous and did not notify the facility of the wastes' hazardous nature.

      Other charges involved mishandling of wastes in drums and other containers, failure to inspect the waste storage area weekly, and failure to train plant personnel and distribute contingency plans to local emergency response units.

      The order gives OMG 45 days to submit a work plan detailing how it will examine soils, solids and wastewater in and around the pond and an unpaved area where drums were stored. The plan must include testing for metals, solvents, radioactive materials and pesticides and must define the nature, location, extent, direction and rate of movement of any wastes at the facility such as in air, soil or groundwater. If contamination is found, the company will have to prepare a plan to remedy the problems. OMG has 20 -30 days from the effective date of the order to perform other measures to meet the law.

      Today's action grew out of a November 1998 inspection of the plant. While Utah's Department of Environmental Quality regulates hazardous waste in the State, OMG's Apex Plant is on 180 acres of reservation land leased from the Shivwits Band of Paiute Indian Tribe. EPA retains RCRA responsibility on Tribal trust lands.

      RCRA is designed partly "to head off another generation of Superfund sites," (the 1,295 most contaminated sites in the nation currently being cleaned up) said EPA enforcement chief Carol Rushin in Denver. The law tracks wastes from where they are created or "generated" to their final treatment or disposal. Waste generators are only required to have an identification number from EPA or an approved state program. Those who transport, store or dispose of such materials must have full-blown permits, a far more costly and complicated process.

      But generators are not allowed to dispose of wastes on site or store materials beyond specific time limits. OMG ran afoul of both of those proscriptions, EPA alleged.

      OMG has 30 days from the effective date of the order to pay the penalty in full or request a public hearing. The company can contest the factual claims, the appropriateness of the penalty and seek a review by an administrative law judge.