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Waste Case to Cost Plating Firm $129K

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

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An Iowa chrome, nickel, and zinc plating operation will pay $19,171 and invest $110,000 in new technology to settle allegations of federal hazardous-waste violations at its plant in Cedar Rapids.

 The Cedar Rapids plant provides “electroless” nickel and metal protective coating products and services for the chemical, petroleum, aircraft and other industries.
The Cedar Rapids plant provides “electroless” nickel and metal protective coating products and services for the chemical, petroleum, aircraft and other industries.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the Superfund with Electro-Coatings of Iowa Inc., which is also a former Superfund site.

Alleged RCRA Violations

According to an administrative consent agreement and final order filed by EPA Region 7 in Kansas City, KS, the settlement stems from an EPA inspection in May 2011 that turned up several alleged violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal act that regulates hazardous waste.

EPA said the violations included:

• Storage of hazardous waste for longer than 90 days without a RCRA permit;

• Hazardous waste container management violations;

• Emergency equipment violations;

• Training violations;

• RCRA contingency plan violations;

• Universal waste management violations;

• Operation of a hazardous waste facility without a RCRA permit; and

• Failing to comply with hazardous waste generator requirements, including failure to label, date and close waste containers.

EPA said the company generated more than 1,000 kilograms of hazardous waste per month.

Reducing Chrome Waste

To resolve the allegations, the company has agreed to pay a $19,171 civil fine and spend a minimum of $110,000 to install technology to reduce the amount of hazardous chrome waste the plant generates.

“Facilities that generate hazardous waste must ensure that the proper procedures are followed in the handling, storage, and management of the waste stream,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks.  “Proper management practices reduce the risk of harm to human health and the environment in the event of an accidental release.”

Established in 1947, the plant is located on the north shore of Cedar Lake, about a 1/4 mile from a residential area. In March 1976, ground water from a neighboring industrial well was found to contain high levels of chromium. The cause of contamination was traced to a leaking concrete tank containing chromic acid at the Electro-Coatings plant.

After remedial efforts through the years, the plant now poses no environmental or health threat, although it remains on EPA’s Superfund National Priorities List. By agreeing to the new settlement with EPA, Electro-Coatings certifies that it is now in compliance with RCRA regulations.

Company Responds

In an emailed statement Wednesday (Aug. 1), Electro-Coatings General Manager Shannon P. Kelty said that all issues raised on inspection had been addressed. Kelty also noted that the allegations did not stem from a spill or release and were not related to chrome waste.

The primary violation related to storage of waste past 90 days, Kelty said. That was the result of overfilling a “contained, lined and covered” dumpster that then froze during the winter, making it too heavy to move.

“As soon as temperatures increased, we transferred a portion of the waste to a new container and both were removed by our waste-service,” Kelty said. “We were in error for failing to contact the EPA, explaining our situation, and requesting an extension.”

As for the uncovered-waste violations, one was for a container that lacked a cover beneath a press, and the other “was a corrugated box containing a single, spent light bulb,” Kelty wrote. “This is considered a ‘universal waste.’”

Both issues were corrected immediately during the inspection, Kelty added.

“Electro-Coatings of Iowa is committed to safety and environmental compliance and has invested heavily over the past few years in new equipment and processes, most recently new air ventilation equipment for the entire plant,” Kelty said.


Tagged categories: EPA; Hazardous waste; Paint disposal; Protective coatings; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); Worker training

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (8/2/2012, 9:02 AM)

Have an untrained worker run a boom and he dies? $10k fine. Minor waste storage violations which do not result in any release to the environment and have all been corrected? $129k.

Comment from John Fauth, (8/3/2012, 8:17 AM)

The deceased employee is no longer voting. The environmental lobby is.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (8/3/2012, 8:58 AM)

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for fines and mandated cleanup for actual environmental releases/damage, it's the silly expensive paperwork violation fines which I'm annoyed with.

Comment from John Fauth, (8/3/2012, 11:49 AM)

I certainly understand, Tom. But the reality is that these things are political calculations. Often with little regard to the impact on business, and in turn, employment.

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