Do you know if you are supposed to report hazardous waste spills? What about your chemical inventory? Manufacturing, processing or storing chemicals and hazardous waste requires knowledge of EPA rules and regulations, as well as reporting inventories and activities to various entities. Many companies are not aware of all that is involved with handling chemicals and hazardous waste. Not knowing can ultimately cost you, your company and more importantly the community.
One company in Seattle paid a hefty fine of $125,000, plus an additional $375,000 for equipment and implementation of a Supplemental Environmental Project. This carbon fiber manufacturing facility failed to report storage and inventory of hazardous chemicals like nitrogen and ammonium bicarbonate for several years. Additionally, ammonia and hydrogen cyanide gases were released into the atmosphere on numerous occasions. This company failed to report the release to local emergency responders, state officials and the National Response Center each time. See full news release.
The company above violated several regulations regarding the manufacturing, processing and storing of chemicals. Sections 304 and 312 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) state that companies who handle hazardous chemicals on site must provide the public and local governments with information concerning potential hazards in their area. This allows emergency responders to be aware of what hazards are in a building and how to respond to a fire or other emergency. According to EPCRA Section 304 and CERCLA Section 103, companies are required to immediately report unauthorized releases exceeding quantity thresholds.
Not sure if the chemicals you handle are hazardous? Start by looking at the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to find out if the chemicals are labeled as hazardous. Next, check online resources to see how your company should be reporting hazardous chemicals. The EPA website has great information. To ensure satisfactory compliance, it is recommended to contact an environmental consultant before submitting annual reports. The environmental consultant will be appropriately prepare the report and work with the company to develop compliance procedures.