EPA settles an unsettling amount of reactive hazardous waste in Oregon
Oregon Metallurgical of Albany and TDY Industries of Millersburg have agreed to pay a combined $825,000 to resolve alleged violations related to the improper storage, transportation, and disposal of anhydrous magnesium chloride, a reactive hazardous waste that poses fire and explosion threats. The EPA asserts that both companies must improve their hazardous waste management practices and upgrade their record keeping for wastes generated at their facilities to avoid potential injuries and accidents.
The government complaint alleges that both companies improperly stored, transported and disposed of anhydrous magnesium chloride waste over a period of several years, in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act ("RCRA") which governs the storage, disposal, and transportation of hazardous waste. EPA estimates that the companies illegally shipped approximately 160,000,000 pounds of this hazardous waste to Oregon landfills that were not equipped or permitted to dispose of untreated reactive wastes.
The facilities produce and process titanium and zirconium, which generates large quantities of anhydrous magnesium chloride as a byproduct. Anhydrous magnesium chloride is a reactive hazardous waste regulated under RCRA. Anhydrous magnesium chloride can react violently when it comes into contact with water, producing large amounts of heat as well as hydrogen and hydrogen sulfide gas in potentially toxic and flammable quantities. The titanium and zirconium are widely used by the military for ship propellers, armor plating, jet engines parts, steam-turbine blades in nuclear power plants, surgical instruments, and components in the U.S. space program.
TDY Industries is also known as Teledyne. They produce digital imaging, instrumentation, engineered systems, and aerospace and defense electronics. Both companies are owned by Allegheny Technologies in Pittsburgh, PA.
According to the EPA, mining and mineral processing facilities such as these two facilities generate more toxic and hazardous waste than any other industrial sector. If not properly managed, these wastes pose a high risk to human health and the environment. EPA's enforcement program will continue to focus on reducing risks associated with hazardous waste operations at mineral processing facilities.
The proposed consent decree filed on Friday, December 13, 2013 in Federal District Court for the District of Oregon is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.
Read more at the EPA.
Hazardous waste image via Shutterstock.