Thursday, January 17, 2019

Massachusetts firm agrees to $5,000 penalty for failing to report chemical spill

Astro Chemicals Inc., a chemical supply company based in Springfield, Massachusetts, has agreed to pay a $5,000 penalty for failing to report a hazardous chemical spill, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) said in a news release.

The recent release on the state's website said that on July 19, Astro employees found several drums of divinylbenzene (DVB) had “reacted, expanded and/or breached the drums, likely due to elevated temperature in the warehouse.”

The company cleaned the small amount of DVB that had spilled on the warehouse’s floor as well as ventilated the building, the release said. They also contacted DVB’s manufacturer, Dow Chemical, which advised Astro on how to stabilize the drums. However, the company failed to notify Springfield public safety officials or MassDEP about the incident, the release said.

Three days later an anonymous tip to the Environmental Protection Agency resulted in EPA officials investigating the site. Based on the EPA officials’ findings, MassDEP determined that “notification of the threat of release of divinylbenzene should have been provided to MassDEP within two hours of Astro becoming aware of the incident,” the release said.

Astro agreed to pay the $5,000 penalty and to retrain employees on notification requirements and appropriate response to spills of oil and hazardous materials, the release said.

“A reactive chemical such as this has the potential to cause significant damage, which is why it is very important that MassDEP and public safety officials be notified when there is a release or a threat of a release,” Michael Gorski, director of MassDEP’s office in Springfield, said in the release. “Responders can provide technical advice, monitoring and cleanup capabilities.”

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Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

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