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EPA Fines Chemical Manufacturing Plant for Violations of Multiple Environmental Laws

The alleged violations are of the federal Clean Air Act, Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.

January 25, 2024

2 Min Read
EPA fines chemical manufacturer for violating laws
In addition to the civil penalty, Nox-Crete also agreed to install a foam-deluge fire suppression system in its manufacturing and raw material storage areas. Image courtesy of JOE CICAK / iStock via Getty Images

The US Environmental Protection Agency has fined chemical manufacturer Nox-Crete Inc. with a $37,026 civil penalty. They also must install a fire suppression system to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act, Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act at the Nox-Crete facility in Omaha, NE.

The facility was inspected by the EPA after a May 2022 fire there that resulted in the release of an estimated 659,543 lb of chemicals, including 40,262 lb of extremely hazardous substances, and an evacuation of over 2,000 residents.

“Nox-Crete’s operations presented a significant risk to its workers and the surrounding community, which is already overburdened by pollution,” said David Cozad, director of EPA Region 7’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. “This settlement, including the installation of the improved fire suppression system, will reduce the risk to workers and residents from future harmful accidents.”

Nox-Crete’s facility manufactures chemicals used to make specialized concrete construction products, including chemicals defined as “extremely hazardous substances” by EPA because they are combustible, flammable, and/or toxic. As outlined in the settlement, EPA alleges that Nox-Crete violated multiple legal requirements, including:

  • Failure to identify hazards that may result from releases of hazardous substances.

  • Failure to minimize the consequences of the release prior to and after the May 2022 fire, including the failure to adequately coordinate with local response authorities regarding the facility’s fire prevention design and plans.

  • Failure to immediately notify EPA and local response authorities after the company was aware of a hazardous substance release.

  • Failure to report the use and storage of two hazardous substances to local response authorities for use in emergency planning prior to the May 2022 fire.

In addition to paying the civil penalty, Nox-Crete also agreed to install a foam-deluge fire suppression system in its manufacturing and raw material storage areas, costing about $244,000. EPA says that the project will help protect workers, responders, and the surrounding area from accidental releases of hazardous substances.

EPA identified the community surrounding the Nox-Crete facility as a potentially sensitive area with respect to air toxics, diesel particulate matter, lead-based paint, and underground storage tanks. EPA is strengthening enforcement in such communities to address disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of industrial operations on vulnerable populations.

Facilities that use hazardous, toxic, and/or flammable substances are required to comply with the Clean Air Act. The law’s “General Duty Clause” makes facility owners and operators responsible for managing chemicals safely. The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) both have reporting requirements for facilities that manage hazardous substances and help communities plan for chemical emergencies.

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