DE Refinery Fined after Chemical Releases

Monday, October 5, 2015 @ 04:10 PM gHale

Delaware City Refining Company will pay a $73,113 penalty to settle violations of federal environmental regulations for failing to immediately notify the National Response Center and state and local emergency planning agencies about the release of hazardous substances that exceeded reportable quantities on two separate dates.

The Delaware City Refinery released 14 pounds of benzene into the environment on Sept. 21, 2014. The reportable quantity for benzene is 10 pounds. The company did not release the report in a timely fashion to the National Response Center or the required state or local emergency planning agencies.

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On Feb. 22, 2015, a ruptured pipe at the facility released 1,3 butadiene and hydrogen sulfide into the environment. The company immediately reported the hydrogen sulfide release. However, an investigation the next day determined that approximately 140 pounds of 1,3 butadiene also released, which exceeded the 10-pound reportable quantity. The company did not report the 1,3 butadiene until the day after the investigation.

Federal regulations require facilities to immediately notify the National Response Center, the state emergency response commission, and the local emergency planning committee of any area likely to be affected by the release as soon as the owner or operator of a facility has knowledge of a release of a hazardous substance in a quantity equal to or above its reportable quantity.

“When manufacturing facilities experience the release of a reportable substance, they must notify emergency responders so nearby communities can be properly protected,” said Shawn M. Garvin, EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator. “These timely reports are essential to protecting communities from potential health risks and environmental harm.”

The violations come under two federal statutes: the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA); and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund. EPCRA requires immediate notification of the state and local authorities, and CERCLA requires immediate notification of the National Response Center.