EPA penalizes SGL Composites for failing to report releases of dangerous chemical
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has penalized SGL Composites $139,100 for repeated failures to immediately report releases of hydrogen cyanide from its facility, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, in Moses Lake, Washington.
Hydrogen cyanide is a highly poisonous chemical and can be explosive in high concentrations.
In a consent agreement issued in December 2021, EPA alleged the company waited 57 hours to notify the proper authorities following a release of HCN on November 25, 2017, approximately 40 minutes after a January 2018 release, and almost three hours after a release in October 2019.
Immediate notification of the release of a reportable quantity of a hazardous substance is required by Section 304 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and Section 103 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.
“Notifying the authorities of a release should be the easiest step for companies like SGL” said Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA Region 10’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. “So many communities near industrial facilities are vulnerable and bear a disproportionate impact from releases and day-to-day operations. This is certainly the case with the communities near SGL.
“Facilities like SGL that use hazardous chemicals should understand that they have an obligation to carefully follow the laws designed to protect people from potentially catastrophic accidents.”
Timely reporting of releases gives first responders the information they need to promptly and effectively respond to an emergency. Upon learning of a release of a reportable quantity of a hazardous substance from its facility, a company must notify local, state, and federal authorities of:
- The chemical name
- Indication of whether the substance is extremely hazardous
- Estimated quantity released into the environment
- The time and duration of the release
- Whether the release occurred into air, water, and/or land
- Known or anticipated acute or chronic health risks associated with the emergency, and where necessary, advice regarding medical attention for exposed individuals
- Proper precautions, such as evacuation or sheltering in place
- Name and telephone number of contact person
CERCLA/EPCRA reporting supports emergency planning and response efforts at the state and local levels by providing local governments and first responders with current information concerning chemical hazards present in their communities, including how to minimize exposure to surrounding populations, and how to safely respond to releases and potential exposures.
SGL paid $100,100 for violations of EPCRA and $39,000 for violations of CERCLA.
Contact: Bill Dunbarfirstname.lastname@example.org