Thatcher Chemical fined for violations of Clean Air Act Risk Management regulations
The federal Clean Air Act requires facilities that have on site more than specified quantities of chemicals which could be hazardous to offsite communities to develop Risk Management Plans (RMP) to address ways to safely acquire, store, and use these substances in ways that assure that they are safely used, that employees are appropriately trained, and that first responders and nearby residents are informed of the presence of potentially hazardous chemicals which, if released to the environment, could require evacuation or sheltering in place for off-site residents.
As part of its compliance enforcement activities, the EPA has an audit program to visit facilities to assess their level of compliance with the RMP program.
EPA reported this week that it conducted compliance inspections of Thatcher Chemical's Salt Lake City facility in February and April of 2010 to assess compliance with the RMP regulations. As a result of the inspections, the EPA found some compliance gaps, and has reached a settlement with Thatcher to implement improved maintenance and internal auditing of equipment used to store and process hazardous chemicals, as well as improving documentation of training for employees working with these chemicals. Thatcher was also assessed a fine for its compliance gaps.
Under the Risk Management Regulations, operations such as Thatchers' must develop a risk management program and submit a risk management plan to assist with emergency preparedness, chemical release prevention, and minimization of releases that occur. EPA Inspectors found that the facility had not adequately implemented those regulations.
"Companies that use chemicals and substances which pose a potential danger are responsible for having a robust risk management program in place," said Mike Gaydosh, director of EPA's enforcement program in Denver. "Failure to do so places the environment, employees, and the nearby community at risk. "
Thatcher, which has operations in several states, is subject to the risk management regulations because it stores large quantities of substances classified as "extremely hazardous" by EPA at its Salt Lake City plant including ammonia, chlorine, and sulfur dioxide. Failure to establish adequate programs and keep plans updated can increase the risk of accidents and reduce preparedness for emergencies.
For more information on Risk Management Plan requirements: http://www.epa.gov/oem/content/rmp/caa_faqs.htm