Settlement with Univar Solutions USA Inc. improves safety at Denver chemical distribution facility
Denver Fire Department Foundation to receive $195,000 in emergency response equipment through Supplemental Environmental Project
DENVER – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with Univar Solutions USA Inc. (Univar) to resolve alleged violations of industrial accident-prevention requirements at one of Univar’s chemical distribution facilities in North Denver as well as four other Univar facilities located in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. As part of the settlement, Univar will spend approximately $195,000 on a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) to provide emergency response equipment to the Denver Fire Department Foundation for use by the Denver Fire Department (DFD).
The settlement addresses violations of the General Duty Clause (GDC) and Risk Management Program (RMP), under Clean Air Act (CAA) Sections 112(r)(1) and 112(r)(7), which make owners and operators of facilities using regulated hazardous substances and chemicals responsible for ensuring chemicals are managed safely and that steps are taken to reduce the risk of accidental releases, which can have serious consequences for public health and safety. The settlement also resolves violations of Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) recordkeeping requirements under Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) Section 313 at the Colorado facility. TRI reports inform communities about certain chemical use and releases that may affect public health and the environment.
“This settlement will make historically underserved communities in the North Denver area safer,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “In addition to requiring Univar to strengthen safety measures at its Denver facility, the company will provide valuable emergency response equipment to protect Denver’s firefighters and the residents they serve.”
Under the order, Univar is required to comply with applicable statutory and regulatory provisions and to complete certain flange repairs at the Denver facility within 60 days of the effective date of the final order. Univar will pay $600,000 in penalties. In addition, Univar agreed to implement a SEP that will provide emergency response equipment to enhance the capabilities of two fire departments: the Denver Fire Department in Colorado and the Bunola Fire Department in Pennsylvania.
As part of the SEP, Univar will spend at least $195,103 to purchase Hazmat protection suits, Level A chemical protection suits, and field equipment for the Denver Fire Department. This equipment will enhance the capabilities of emergency responders, facilitate quick and efficient responses to releases associated with emergency events, and provide environmental and public health benefits for local communities, including those near Univar’s North Denver facility, which are overburdened by environmental pollution.
“The opportunity to receive this equipment is invaluable to the Denver Fire Department,” said Desmond Fulton, Chief of the Denver Fire Department. “These specialized tools and protective equipment will directly assist DFD with our Hazardous Materials Response when called upon to protect the citizens of Denver and the communities we serve.”
Between 2016 and 2019, EPA conducted inspections at five of Univar’s facilities located in Denver, Colo., Bunola, Penn., Middletown, Penn., and two in Providence, R.I. EPA’s allegations for all five Univar facilities include failure to comply with industry standards of care as required by the GDC and RMP regulations for hazardous and/or regulated chemicals such as anhydrous ammonia, aqueous ammonia, chlorine and formaldehyde.
For over 50 years, industry has published standards, codes, and guidance that outline measures to help prevent and mitigate accidental releases of hazardous chemicals. These standards apply layers of protections to make facilities safer and are routinely updated to keep up with improving technology, newly identified hazards, industry operating experience, and/or incidents indicating more stringent hazard controls are needed. When enforcing the Clean Air Act’s General Duty Clause or chemical accident prevention regulations, EPA looks to these industry standards of care in evaluating the design and operation of chemical production and distribution facilities.
Reducing risks from accidental releases of hazardous substances at industrial and chemical facilities is an EPA priority, identified as one of seven National Compliance Initiatives in 2019.
Read the Consent Agreement and Final Order.
More information about the General Duty Clause Requirements of Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act and Risk Management Program.
More information about the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program.
More information about EPA’s National Compliance Initiative - Reducing Accidental Releases at Industrial and Chemical Facilities and Enforcement Alert for Chemical Warehouses.
More information about the Denver Fire Department Foundation and the Denver Fire Department.