The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this week that adhesives manufacturer ITW Polymers Sealants North America Inc. (ITW) corrected several alleged violations of chemical safety regulations and will pay a fine of $345,000 to settle claims that chemical accident prevention laws were violated at the firm’s Rockland, MA facility.
ITW, a subsidiary of Illinois Tool Works Inc., is alleged to have failed to comply with chemical accident prevention requirements under the federal Clean Air Act, the agency said in a release Thursday. The company stores highly flammable and toxic chemical substances in large outdoor storage tanks, and then transports the chemicals through piping into the facility’s buildings to manufacture adhesives and sealants. EPA said many of the violations stemmed from failing to properly inspect and maintain the outdoor chemical storage tanks and piping.
“EPA enforcement action, and ITW’s subsequent actions in response to it, have resulted in a safer facility and helped protect human health and the environment,” EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro said in a statement. “This settlement demonstrates that the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention requirements are in place for a reason and shows EPA’s dedication to working with facilities to ensure chemical safety compliance.”
During an EPA inspection of the Rockland site, investigators found that the outdoor tanks and piping were not properly inspected or maintained, which resulted in “many potential” violations of the Clean Air Act General Duty Clause (GDC) and Risk Management Plant (RMP) regulations, according to the agency.
ITW has corrected most of the alleged violations and intends to complete all outstanding corrective work by the end of May 2021. As part of the settlement, the firm also agreed to a follow-up chemical safety compliance audit using an independent auditing form and produce a written audit report that will be sent to the EPA.
The company allegedly violated the GDC, a Clean Air Act Section 112(r) statutory provision, that requires companies to design and maintain safe facilities and minimize the potential consequences of hazardous chemical releases. The violations included the failure to inspect outdoor tanks holding seven different GDC-subject chemicals (including toluene, methyl acetate, and acetone), failure to anchor two vertical tanks, and failure to inspect and properly label piping. Two of the tanks were missing required overflow controls and the concrete catch basins, used for spill control around many of the tanks, were chipped and cracked.
ITW also allegedly violated the federal RMP regulations, also promulgated under the Clean Air Act Section 112(r), that include requirements that companies maintain and inspect their hazardous chemical processing tanks and equipment in accordance with recognized industry standards to help prevent chemical accidents. The company had also failed to conduct inspections of three, outdoor, pressurized chemical storage tanks in service at the facility since 2003. ITW had also failed to regularly test or replace the tanks’ pressure relief valves. In addition, ITW failed to timely conduct ultrasonic testing on pipes carrying RMP chemicals. The company also failed to properly analyze potential hazards involved in their chemical processes in accordance with RMP regulations.
“Companies with Clean Air Act RMP and GDC obligations sometimes face challenges in maintaining a proper schedule of tank and pipe inspections, hiring well-qualified tank inspectors, and developing systems to ensure overall compliance,” the EPA wrote in the release. “Well-performed, comprehensive inspections not only satisfy compliance requirements, but also help ensure that tanks, pipes, and equipment have full, useful service lines.”