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EPA Works with Rhode Island Company to Reduce Risks from Hazardous Materials

Rhode Island Company Improves Management of Chemicals and Hazardous Materia

08/15/2017
Contact Information: 
Emily Bender (bender.emily@epa.gov)
617-918-1037

(Boston) - A Lincoln, RI, metals etching company has made changes in its manufacturing equipment and process to ensure that it is complying with federal clean air and hazardous waste laws and to settle claims of violations by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

ChemArt Company, located at 11 New England Way, is spending $25,000 to reduce the amount of chorine it stores at its facility and to install safety and alarm features. The changes will reduce the likelihood of a chlorine release and will minimize damage that could result from such a release. According to an agreement signed recently with the New England office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ChemArt will also pay a $221,326 penalty for its violations of the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

The case stems from a January 2015 inspection of the company during which EPA inspectors found that ChemArt had violated a number of requirements for chemical risk management planning and for handling hazardous wastes. Compliance with requirements for chemical risk management planning and hazardous waste management help to prevent releases of extremely hazardous substances (such as chlorine gas), help a facility and emergency responders prepare for any chemical releases that might occur, and results in better protection of the health and safety of employees, local residents, and the environment.

ChemArt's manufacturing process uses ferric chloride in automatic machines that etch on metal. The plant stores liquefied chlorine gas in four 2,000-pound cylinders. The chlorine is piped from there to the etching machines.

Chlorine, considered an extremely hazardous substance under the Clean Air Act, is a potent irritant to the eyes, the upper respiratory tract, and lungs. Long-term exposure to chlorine gas in workers has resulted in respiratory effects, including eye and throat irritation and airflow obstruction. Exposure to higher levels of chlorine have resulted in mucous membrane irritation; chest pain; vomiting; toxic pneumonitis; and pulmonary edema.

As part of the settlement with EPA, ChemArt will reduce its chlorine storage from 8,000 pounds to about 2,450 pounds. It will also install a three-cylinder manifold system to replace one of the two one-ton vessel distribution lines it now uses and it will re-plumb the entire chlorine piping system that feeds the etchers. Finally, it will use a vacuum system along the chlorine line to minimize any potential leakage and will install an automatic alarm and shut down system connected to the chlorine source.

The reduction in the amount of chlorine stored at ChemArt will mean that the facility is no longer subject to the specific risk management planning regulations of the Clean Air Act. However, the plant will still be subject to the Clean Air Act's General Duty Clause, a more general standard of care that applies to facilities that handle extremely hazardous substances.

ChemArt fully cooperated with EPA during this action, promptly corrected all of the violations and has agreed to stay in compliance with federal hazardous waste laws.

For more information on Risk Management plans, visit: https://www.epa.gov/rmp

For guidance on the General Duty Clause in the Clean Air Act, visit: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/guidance-implementation-general-duty-clause-clean-air-act-caa-section-112r1-may-2000

For information about Resource Conservation and Recovery Act: https://www.epa.gov/rcra