Acid Storage: RI Chem Co. Guilty

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 @ 03:05 PM gHale

After not following regulations for storing 46,000 pounds of hydrofluoric acid, Warwick, RI-based Mann Distribution, LLC, pleaded guilty last week in Providence’s U.S. District Court to violating the Clean Air Act.

The company, also known as Mann Chemical, LLC, received a $200,000 fine and a three-year probation period for not complying with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations that require a risk management plan at facilities storing more than 1,000 lbs. of hydrofluoric acid.

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A news release from the attorney’s office said the company failed to “protect workers, the community and emergency and first responders in the event of a chemical release or fire.”

Mann Chemical, which distributes industrial chemicals throughout New England, is also required to issue a public apology.

“EPA’s Risk Management Program has a clear purpose — to prevent and prepare for releases of toxic and flammable substances that have the potential for catastrophic consequences,” said Tyler Amon, special agent in charge of EPA’s Criminal Program in Rhode Island. “The sentence imposed by the court underscores the importance placed on protecting workers, emergency responders and communities.”

In 2009, an EPA inspection found Mann Chemical did not develop and implement a risk management plan, even though it was storing 92 drums of hydrofluoric acid in a concentration of 70 percent. Each drum weighed 500 pounds, totaling of 46,000 pounds of hydrofluoric acid.

Hydrogen fluoride is a chemical compound that contains fluorine, according to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention website. It can exist as a colorless gas or as a fuming liquid, or it can dissolve in water. When hydrogen fluoride dissolves in water, it could also end up called hydrofluoric acid. Hydrofluoric acid sees use mainly for industrial purposes, and may cause skin burns, tissue damage and/or respiratory concerns.

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