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Hercules Inc., a subsidiary of chemical distributor Ashland Inc., has agreed to pay $2 million in penalties to settle alleged violations of its consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the Resin Disposal Superfund Site in Jefferson Borough, Allegheny Co., Pa.
The settlement pertains to the company’s failure to notify EPA about three uncontrolled releases of hazardous substances from the site’s treatment system. These include a release on April 15, 2011 that bypassed the treatment system and resulted in the hospitalization of a worker at the West Elizabeth Sanitary Authority (WESA) treatment plant and a four-day plant shut down. The two other releases that bypassed the treatment system were on March 31 and July 19, 2011.
The WESA treatment plant, located on the Monongahela River approximately one half mile from the site, receives the liquid portion of leachate treated at the site. A worker at the plant was injured from inhaling harmful fumes allegedly caused by the release that had bypassed treatment at the Superfund site.
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The Resin Disposal site covers 26 acres and includes a former two-acre landfill that received approximately 85,000 tons of industrial waste from the Pennsylvania Industrial Chemical Corporation between 1949 and 1964. Hercules acquired the Resin Disposal Site in 1973.
Under a consent decree with EPA, Hercules is required to operate an on-site leachate collection and treatment system. The leachate contains resin oils contaminated with volatile organic compounds including naphthalene from former disposal practices. This treatment system is part of the Superfund cleanup project that began in June 1995. The cleanup also includes a multi-layer cap for the landfill and a fence around the perimeter of the landfill.
EPA believes the three releases were significant in terms of potential harm to human health and the environment. The $2 million penalty takes into account the company’s failure to notify EPA of the releases.