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Poor Paint Storage Draws $90K Fine

Monday, August 18, 2014

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A New York paint company will pay $90,000 to settle alleged hazardous-waste violations after a fire investigation revealed over 100 improperly stored, corroded paint drums, federal officials announced.

T.C. Dunham Paint Company of Yonkers, NY, has reached a legal settlement to resolve alleged violations of the federal hazardous-waste laws, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Aug. 7.

A fire broke out at the facility May 16, 2012, and burned off and on, with minor explosions and rekindling, for nearly 24 hours. The EPA's inspection was launched in response to information from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's investigation of the fire, according to the settlement.

"EPA inspectors found more than 100 drums of paints and solvents, many of which were leaking and corroded," said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator.

epa.gov

"Many of the containers ... were extremely corroded and some had leaked their contents; several of the drums were extensively deformed," the EPA said about storage practices at T.C. Dunham.

By agreeing to the settlement, T.C. Dunham neither admits nor denies "specific factual allegations."

The company could not be reached for comment Thursday (Aug. 14).

Toxic Runoff

An OSHA inspector told the EPA that, during firefighting operations, a large number of drums were observed "haphazardly stored outdoors ... in poor condition, generally unlabeled, and were suspected to contain paint and related hazardous waste."

Fighting the fire required vast amounts of water that caused runoff into the Saw Mill River, and sampling found VOCs, including acetone, benzene, methylene chloride and toluene, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation said at the time.

The fire consumed all of the company's records, offices, formulations, labeling and inventory, according to one employee. However, manufacturing operations were not damaged.

'Extremely Corroded' & 'Extensively Deformed'

The EPA said its inspection had found about 100 drums and numerous other containers stacked on wooden pallets, on bare ground, in an old truck trailer, and in two adjacent outdoor locations.

©iStock / endopack

Alleged hazardous-waste violations included failure to keep containers in good condition and failure to label and identify contents of individual drums.

"Many of the containers ... were extremely corroded and some had leaked their contents; several of the drums were extensively deformed," the EPA reported.

The majority of the containers were unlabeled and could not be specifically identified by T.C. Dunham. The company said the containers had "stood outside" for "about 20 years," according to the settlement.

Alleged Violations

The alleged violations of federal law included failure to:

  • Determine which substances should be considered hazardous waste to ensure they are managed properly;
  • Maintain and operate the facilities in a manner that minimized the possibility of a fire, explosion or accidental release of chemicals;
  • Keep containers in good condition;
  • Transfer hazardous waste from a leaking container to a container in good condition; and
  • Label and identify the contents of individual drums to ensure their proper management.

Under federal hazardous-waste laws, hazardous chemicals must be stored, handled and disposed of properly to safeguard public health and the environment.

©iStock / ramihalim

The company has also faced millions in lawsuits after one worker was killed and another was severely burned in a building fire started by a lacquer that ignited in 2006.

"Every business needs to comply with environmental laws to ensure that human health and the environment are not damaged," said Enck.

Millions Paid Out

Just months before the May 2012 fire, T.C. Dunham was found liable for about $4.5 million in injuries resulting from a building fire started by a lacquer that ignited in 2006, according to several media reports citing law journal VerdictSearch.

Victor Marache suffered third-degree burns over 30 percent of his body and sued New Palace Painters Supply Co. Inc., the retailer, and T.C. Dunham. A jury awarded Marache about $11 million in damages, which was split between the two companies at 60 and 40 percent.

Marache also reached a settlement with AkzoNobel, the manufacturer, for $4 million.

In February, a New York appeals court ruled that T.C. Dunham and New Palace Painters should face a wrongful-death lawsuit stemming from the same fire, according to Law360.com.

Jose Carino, an employee of T.C. Dunham, suffered severe burns and died a few weeks later.

   

Tagged categories: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Fire; Hazardous waste; Lawsuits; Paint storage; VOC content

Comment from peter gibson, (8/18/2014, 11:59 AM)

Love to meet the owner of the company....in his house. Will tell us all about him. Another mindboggling story. No end to these stories.


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