EPA Settlements Improve Safety at Facilities in Houlton and Searsport, Maine
BOSTON (Nov. 2, 2021) – EPA has reached settlements with two companies in Maine for alleged violations of the chemical accident prevention requirements of the federal Clean Air Act. The companies, GAC Chemical Corp. (GAC) in Searsport, and Tate and Lyle Ingredients Americas in Houlton, will pay civil penalties. Both companies took steps to improve safety at their facilities after EPA's inspections.
GAC Chemical Corp. operates a chemical manufacturing and distribution facility in Searsport. Among other chemicals, GAC uses anhydrous ammonia, aqueous ammonia, and sulfuric acid in its operations. Anhydrous ammonia is a highly toxic regulated substance, and facilities that routinely store or handle more than 10,000 pounds of it are required to prepare and submit a "Risk Management Plan" (RMP) that outlines how the facility will meet the safety requirements. Sulfuric acid is an extremely hazardous substance subject to the "General Duty Clause" (GDC) of section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act. The GAC facility is located about two miles east of Searsport's downtown area, and a worst-case release from the facility could cause serious injury or death beyond the facility, impacting homes, businesses, schools, churches, and Route 1.
Under the settlement with EPA, GAC will pay a $305,000 penalty to resolve seven counts. EPA's most significant concern pertained to the maintenance of tanks and pipes at the facility. GAC has certified that the facility is now substantively in compliance with RMP regulations and the General Duty Clause.
Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas manufactures a variety of specialty food and industrial starches at its facility in Houlton. The facility handles and stores various hazardous chemicals subject to RMP and other chemical safety requirements, including propylene oxide, sulfuric acid, compressed natural gas, acetic anhydride, hydrogen chloride, and propane. An EPA inspection of the facility documented several serious concerns regarding their use of RMP and GDC chemicals at the site. Under the settlement, the company will pay a $240,919 penalty to resolve four counts and has certified its compliance with RMP and GDC requirements.
Throughout the settlement process, both companies have cooperated with EPA and have addressed the identified issues, significantly improving the safety of both facilities.
"Companies that store, handle or manufacture hazardous chemicals must take necessary precautions to protect local communities by following chemical accident prevention requirements," said EPA New England's Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. "Risk Management Plans are important because they identify the potential effects of a chemical accident, and they identify steps the facility is taking to prevent an accident."
More information on Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act:
Risk Management Plans: https://www.epa.gov/rmp
General Duty Clause: https://www.epa.gov/rmp/general-duty-clause-under-clean-air-act-section-112r1