EPA Settlement with Adhesive Manufacturer Improves Tank and Equipment Safety at Rockland, Mass. Facility
ROCKLAND, MASS. – Under a recent settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ITW Polymers Sealants North America, Inc. (ITW), an adhesive manufacturer, has corrected alleged violations of chemical safety regulations and will pay a settlement penalty of $345,000 to settle claims that the company violated chemical accident prevention laws at a facility in Rockland, Massachusetts.
EPA alleged that ITW, a wholly owned subsidiary of Illinois Tools Works Inc., failed to comply with chemical accident prevention requirements stemming from the federal Clean Air Act. The company stores highly flammable and toxic chemical substances in large outdoor storage tanks, and then transports the chemicals through piping into the facility's buildings to manufacture adhesives and sealants. Many of ITW's violations involved the failure to properly inspect and maintain the outdoor chemical storage tanks and piping.
"EPA's enforcement action, and ITW's subsequent actions in response to it, have resulted in a safer facility and helped protect human health and the environment," said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro. "This settlement demonstrates that the Clean Air Act's chemical accident prevention requirements are in place for a reason and shows EPA's dedication to working with facilities to ensure chemical safety compliance."
EPA inspected the ITW facility and found that the outdoor tanks and piping had not been properly inspected or maintained, resulting in many potential Clean Air Act General Duty Cause (GDC) and Risk Management Plan (RMP) regulation violations. When contacted by EPA, ITW agreed to address and correct the potential violations. EPA and ITW then reached an administrative settlement of EPA's enforcement case. ITW has now corrected nearly all of the alleged violations and will finish the remaining corrective work by the end of May 2021. The company has also agreed to conduct a follow-up chemical safety compliance audit using an independent auditing firm and produce a written audit report that will be provided to EPA.
The company allegedly violated the GDC, a Clean Air Act Section 112(r) statutory provision, that requires companies to design and maintain safe facilities and minimize the potential consequences of hazardous chemical releases. The violations included the failure to inspect outdoor tanks holding seven different GDC-subject chemicals (including toluene, methyl acetate, and acetone), failure to anchor two vertical tanks, and failure to inspect and properly label piping. Two of the tanks were missing required overflow controls and the concrete catch basins, used for spill control around many of the tanks, were chipped and cracked.
The company also allegedly violated the federal RMP regulations, also promulgated under Clean Air Act Section 112(r), that include requirements that companies maintain and inspect their hazardous chemical-processing tanks and equipment in accordance with recognized industry standards to help prevent chemical accidents. ITW had failed to conduct inspections of three outdoor, pressurized chemical storage tanks in service at the facility since 2003. ITW had also failed to regularly test or replace the tanks' pressure relief valves. In addition, ITW failed to timely conduct ultrasonic testing on pipes carrying RMP chemicals. The company also failed to properly analyze potential hazards involved in their chemical processes in accordance with RMP regulations.
Companies with Clean Air Act RMP and GDC obligations sometimes face challenges in maintaining a proper schedule of tank and pipe inspections, hiring well-qualified tank inspectors, and developing systems to ensure overall compliance. Well-performed, comprehensive inspections not only satisfy compliance requirements, but also help ensure that tanks, pipes, and equipment have full, useful service lives.
RMP and GDC regulations and requirements: https://www.epa.gov/rmp