Mass. Company Settles Clean Air Act Case

EPA's New England office has settled a Clean Air Act complaint\r\nagainst a Springfield, Mass., decorative chromium electroplating\r\ncompany.

EPA''s New England office has settled a Clean Air Act complaint against a Springfield, Mass., decorative chromium electroplating company.

The complaint alleges that National Metal Finishing Corp. violated the Clean Air Act by failing to follow reporting, notification and work practice standards for emissions of chromium and halogenated solvents.

Under the terms of the consent decree, National will pay $29,729 fine and spend $160,000 on a project that will reduce water pollution in the Springfield area.

Under the Clean Air Act, EPA sets limits for air pollutants and requires that companies keep records and notify environmental officials about the chemicals used in their businesses.

The Clean Air Act also establishes work practice standards to ensure workers are not subjected to dangerous levels of air pollutants.

The complaint alleges that National violated this rule by:

  • not submitting required reports about its operations to the EPA.
  • not developing and implementing an operations and maintenance plan for its chrome plating operations.
  • not maintaining records required by federal regulations governing the use of halogenated solvents.
  • not employing all the work practice and basic equipment design requirements for halogenated solvent use.

"In order for the Clean Air Act to work, businesses need to comply with all the regulations that go into it, even what might seem like the most mundane paperwork requirements," said Robert Varney, regional administrator for EPA''s New England office. "When companies don''t do this, they are potentially putting people, their employees and neighbors, at risk."

As part of the settlement, National will install a wastewater purification and recycling system using micro filtration and reverse osmosis.

This will reduce the company''s industrial waste discharge to the Springfield wastewater treatment plant by 50 percent. In addition, the filtration system will remove metal hydroxide sludge, considered a hazardous waste by EPA, from the wastewater. The sludge will be sent to a recycling facility.

Although the EPA settlement only calls for $160,000 to be spent on this project, National estimates that the cost of the wastewater treatment equipment is approximately $350,000 and it will cost $35,000 a year to operate. It will also cost $2,000 a year to label and dispose of the sludge.

"National really must be commended for this wastewater filtration system. It goes above and beyond what the EPA requirement is and shows the company is a good neighbor that is interested in protecting the environment. It will protect human health and the urban environment not only in the immediate area, but far afield as well," Varney said.

The complaint against National is part of a larger effort by EPA that includes assisting companies that clean or finish metal and educating them on relevant environmental regulations. EPA efforts to control pollution by the metal industry stem in part from regulations enacted in 1995 to regulate emissions of chromium, trichloroethylene and other toxic chemicals.

by Virginia Foran

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