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Posts Tagged ‘violations’

Monday, August 31, 2015 @ 06:08 PM gHale

Dominion Resources reached a settlement over violations at Connecticut’s Millstone Unit 2 nuclear reactor found in an inspection report issued in April.

As part of the settlement, the company is “implementing a broad range of corrective actions … to prevent recurrences,” said officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

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The actions will also answer questions raised by the agency about the extent of changes to reactor safety systems.

The most serious of the violations included one considered for “escalated enforcement” by the NRC.

The NRC characterized it as a “willful violation” that involved changes made without a licensing approval to the plant’s Updates Final Safety Analysis Report that removed information about the use of a specific type of safety pump in response to a hypothetical accident.

The pump is part of the plant’s emergency cooling system.

Another violation the NRC termed “non-willful,” but also considered for escalated enforcement, was for failure to provide complete and accurate information to the NRC about the changes.

A third apparent violation pertained to Dominion’s failure to obtain a license amendment before making changes to the spent fuel pool heat-load analysis.

Ken Holt, spokesman for Millstone, said Dominion did not agree with the NRC about the “willful violation.”

“The NRC’s characterization of ‘willful’ is one on which we could not find consensus, and on which we agreed to disagree,” he said. “The agreement we reached should provide the necessary clarity to put the focus on avoiding the situation from happening in the future.”

The settlement Thursday came as a result of the the NRC’s Alternative Dispute Resolution process.

Scott Morris, director of the division of inspection and regional support at the NRC, said the alternative dispute process yielded “meaningful corrective actions that are designed to prevent these kinds of issues from occurring in the future, at Millstone and at other U.S. nuclear power plants.”

“The lessons learned will be shared at the site, throughout the Dominion nuclear plant fleet and throughout the industry,” he said.

Holt said the process enabled Dominion and the NRC to “discuss our technical differences and reach a mutual agreement.”

He said Dominion will fully comply with the required corrective actions, which include:
• Make changes to plant procedures regarding the operation and testing of charging pumps, and evaluate the use of the pumps.
• Communicate throughout the company about the importance of providing complete and accurate information to the NRC.
• Submit a license amendment request to the NRC addressing the use of charging pumps and seek approval of the spent fuel pool heat-load analysis.
• Complete an assessment of the program that allows plant owners to make changes at their facilities without prior NRC approval provided certain criteria end up met. The assessment would cover how the program ended up used and any corrective actions needed.
• Make a presentation at a nuclear industry forum to talk about the events that lead to the agreement.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 @ 02:09 PM gHale

Total Petrochemical USA, Inc. (Total) will pay an $8.75 million penalty for failing to comply with the terms of a 2007 settlement with the United States for violations of the Clean Air Act at its Port Arthur, TX, refinery, federal officials said.

Between 2007 and 2011, Total violated numerous requirements of the 2007 settlement, including failing to comply with emissions limits for benzene, a harmful air pollutant, said officials at the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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The company also failed to perform corrective actions or to analyze the cause of over 70 incidents involving emissions of hazardous gases through flaring. EPA discovered the violations through a review of the quarterly compliance reports required by the 2007 settlement.

The 2007 settlement required Total pay a $2.9 million penalty and make upgrades to its facility to reduce emissions of harmful air pollution to resolve Clean Air Act violations. The 2007 settlement also said Total needed to upgrade leak detection and repair practices and implement programs to minimize flaring, which can result in emissions of gases that can cause serious respiratory problems and exacerbate asthma.

“Total failed repeatedly to adhere to obligations they willingly took on when they settled with the United States in 2007. These are court-enforceable requirements for the protection of the health of their Texas neighbors, not simply the cost of doing business,” said Robert G. Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Companies that settle with the United States must meet their obligations or there will be consequences, as this significant penalty demonstrates.”

“EPA has been working with local officials, community leaders and organizers, and local industry to improve living conditions for residents of Port Arthur. These efforts have already produced results, especially with the opening of the Westside Health Clinic,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “Clean air is essential for keeping communities healthy. EPA will continue its efforts to hold companies accountable for violating our nation’s environmental laws and meeting our enforcement orders and decrees.”

Total must now comply with a lower benzene emissions limit for an additional two years. The enhanced limit for benzene, which is 30 percent lower than the federal limit, initially was a requirement in the 2007 settlement. In addition, Total must hire a third-party to audit its compliance under the settlement and must implement a company task force to monitor its compliance.

Exposure to high concentrations of sulfur dioxide (SO2), a key pollutant emitted from refineries, can affect breathing and aggravate existing respiratory and cardiovascular disease, particularly in children and in the elderly.

The settlement is available for viewing.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 @ 06:09 PM gHale

The MarkWest Javelina plant in Corpus Christi, TX, will pay out over $750,000 to improve emissions controls, officials said.

It will invest over $650,000 for facility operations improvements that will reduce flaring events and improve communications with the local community.

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In addition, the gas processing plant will also pay a civil penalty of $97,500 to settle violations of the Clean Air Act uncovered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The consent agreement addresses a number of violations occurring from Sept. 1, 2012 to Jan. 30, 2013.

“EPA is committed to reducing toxic air pollution from sources that have an impact on the health of our citizens,” said Ron Curry, EPA’s Regional Administrator. “This agreement has a positive and direct impact on improving air quality and communication for the surrounding community.”

In addition to improving flare efficiency, the settlement requires MarkWest Javelina improve operational reliability without increasing facility emissions and improve emission controls. The company will also establish a 24 hour hotline to answer any community questions about flaring events at the facility.

This agreement is another in the EPA’s efforts to reduce emissions of toxic air pollutants, with a focus on industrial flares. These requirements focus on reducing the amount of waste gas sent to flares and on improving flare operations, both of which reduce toxic emissions.

Improper operation of an industrial flare can send hundreds of tons of hazardous air pollutants into the air, EPA officials said. More pollution results when waste gas ends up in a flare, or if the flare is inefficient. EPA wants companies to flare less, and when they do flare, to burn the harmful chemicals found in the waste gas.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 @ 02:04 PM gHale

Rothe Welding Inc. of Saugerties, NY, is facing $52,280 in fines for failure to abate and repeat and serious workplace health violations, said officials at the Occupational Saftey and Health Administration (OSHA).

The fines for the metal fabricator come following an inspection initiated in September 2012 by OSHA’s Albany Area Office to verify the correction of hazards cited during a January 2012 inspection. The company faced previous citations for seven violations of safety and health standards.

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One of the uncorrected hazards involves failing to provide workers with information and training about the hazards of lead and other substances in the workplace.

As a result, OSHA cited Rothe Welding for failing to abate the hazard and has proposed a fine of $36,000. A failure-to-abate notice applies to a condition, hazard or practice found upon reinspection the employer originally faced a citation and did not correct.

“Despite having sufficient time to correct all hazards cited during the previous inspection, this employer failed to do so. In addition, other hazards were allowed to recur and new hazards were identified,” said Kim Castillon, OSHA’s area director in Albany. “The proposed fines reflect both the severity of these hazards, which expose workers to potentially serious health conditions, as well as this employer’s failure to take all effective corrective action.”

Additionally, two repeat violations with $10,560 in fines involve an inadequate respirator protection program, failing to medically evaluate workers to determine their ability to wear respirators, and failing to ensure employees using tight-fitting respirators ended up fit tested. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously faced citations for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

Citations for three serious violations carrying $5,720 in fines involve failing to clean and disinfect respirators before usage; store respirators in safe locations to protect them from damage, dust, extreme temperatures or moisture; and to provide lead hazard information to potentially exposed workers. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

“One means of preventing hazards is through an effective illness and injury prevention program in which workers and managers work together to identify and eliminate hazards that can injure or sicken workers,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 @ 05:01 PM gHale

A Columbiana, OH, gray iron casting plant is facing $56,880 in fines for 10 health and safety violations for failing failed to monitor employees’ exposure to noise hazards and other infractions, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

COL-Pump Co., Inc. faces the fines for 10 violations, including willful violations regarding the company’s failure to monitor exposure to noise above 85 decibels.

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COL-Pump co-owner Paul Rance said the company is working with OSHA and workers were never in any danger.

The company’s website said the foundry employs about 125 people.

OSHA said they began their investigation Sept. 14. The willful violations came about because COL-Pump failed to establish an audiogram — a graph that charts decibel levels measured — within six months of the first exposure to the increased decibel level. They also failed to provide the graphs to employees.

The company also got a repeat citation for failing to lower the noise exposure in the grinding area of the facility. OSHA cited the company for the same problem in 2009.

OSHA also cited Col-Pump for failing to maintain ladders in a safe condition and failing to ensure machine guarding remained affixed to a sand mixer system, both serious violations.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 @ 03:12 PM gHale

Honeywell Electronic Chemicals LLC is facing $53,000 for 10 serious safety and health violations at the company’s facility in Mansfield, TX, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA’s Fort Worth Area Office personnel opened an investigation at the company’s facility at U.S. Highway 287 North as a part of the agency’s national emphasis program on process safety management, known as PSM, for covered chemical facilities. Employees suffered exposure to catastrophic releases of highly hazardous chemicals while conducting operations at the plant, officials said.

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Honeywell Electronic Chemicals, a subsidiary of Chandler, AZ-based Honeywell International Inc., employs 30 workers in Mansfield.

“This company jeopardized the safety of its employees by failing to implement OSHA’s process safety management regulations effectively,” said Jack Rector, OSHA’s area director in Fort Worth, TX. “OSHA requires employers to provide safe and healthful working conditions to prevent accidents and illnesses.”

Six serious violations all relate to PSM, and include failing to ensure process equipment complies with recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices; ensure standard operating procedures were annually certified; conduct an incident investigation within 48 hours and ensure piping and instrumentation diagrams were up-to-date.

Four additional serious violations involve failing to ensure emergency exits were properly marked, confined spaces were identified by signage, the location of fire extinguishers were properly labeled and that hazardous containers were properly labeled. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Monday, October 15, 2012 @ 05:10 PM gHale

Duke Energy’s two-unit, 2,258 MW Catawba nuclear power plant near York, SC, about 18 miles south of Charlotte, NC, will get increased oversight, said officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The increased oversight from the NRC is because of violations linked to an event in April where the plant temporarily lost offsite power.

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The NRC said the two violations involved an incorrect modification to a Unit 1 generator protective relay that resulted in the loss of offsite power event.

The NRC found the violation for Unit 1 was a “white,” which means it has low to moderate safety significance.

Meanwhile, the violation for Unit 2 was “green,” or had very low safety significance.

The chain of events started April 4, when the plant lost power coming into the plant. Backup generators kicked in and the one operating reactor shut down safely. Catawba’s second reactor was already down for refueling.

Catawba officials declared an “unusual event,” the lowest of four emergency levels and one not experienced at the plant since 2006.

Nuclear plants have multiple backup systems to keep them safe if there is some type of malfunction. But losing off-site power removes the primary energy source needed to operate the plant and keep vital cooling water in circulation.

The NRC investigation traced the April incident to a programming error when electrical modifications occurred on the plant’s Unit 1 last July and November, and to Unit 2 in February. The error meant off-site power could inadvertently be lost anytime if the units’ generator shut down due to a power fluctuation.

That’s what happened April 4. A ground fault on a reactor coolant pump triggered the reactor, turbine and generator to stop. Because of the programming error, the unit also lost off-site power.

Duke corrected the problem and both Catawba reactors are now operating at full power.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 @ 03:09 PM gHale

Omega Protein Inc. is facing a $79,200 fine for 25 safety and health violations based on an April inspection of the company’s processing plant in Moss Point, MS, after the death of a worker who got caught in a rotating screw conveyor, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“This terrible incident could have been avoided if the employer had followed OSHA’s standards for energy control procedures,” said Clyde Payne, OSHA’s area director in Jackson. “It is the employer’s responsibility to make sure that employees are aware of and follow energy control procedures for their protection when working on any machinery.”

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Twenty-one serious violations involve failing to have employees affix personal lockout devices to a group lockout device, develop a written respirator protection program, develop and document procedures for controlling hazardous energy, obtain audiograms annually, provide training for forklift operators, conduct annual noise training, properly secure compressed gas cylinders, and provide a suitable facility for quick eye and body drenching or flushing.

OSHA also identified fall and electrical hazards; a lack of equipment guarding on rotating drums, fan blades and horizontal rotating shafts; and a lack of guarding on the belts and pulleys of the grinding screw and the hopper screw conveyor. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Citations also went out for four other-than-serious violations that include failing to provide signage for the exit door in the mechanic shop, caution signage for a low overhead hazard, strain relief for a fan’s flexible cord and a hazard warning label on ethylene glycol. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

Omega Protein produces omega-3 fish oil and specialty fish meal products. The company’s headquarters are in Houston, TX, and it has additional processing plants in Cameron and Abbeville, LA, and Reedville, VA.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 @ 05:08 PM gHale

Cardolite Corp. is facing $82,500 in fines for one willful and 13 serious health and safety violations for exposing workers to chemical and other hazards at the company’s Newark, NJ, facility, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA initiated its March investigation in response to a complaint and also as part of the agency’s national emphasis program on process safety management for covered chemical facilities.

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“Process safety management prevents or mitigates a catastrophic release of toxic, reactive or flammable liquids and gases in chemical processes,” said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA’s Parsippany Area Office. “By not complying with PSM requirements, Cardolite jeopardized the safety of its chemical operators and others working at the site by exposing them to dangerous fire hazards. This negligent behavior will not be tolerated.”

The willful violation is failing to monitor employees’ formaldehyde exposure at six-month intervals. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. That citation carries a $44,000 penalty.

The serious violations include failing to ensure that workers are not overexposed to formaldehyde, implement effective engineering controls and work practices to reduce formaldehyde exposure, provide medical surveillance to workers overexposed to formaldehyde, ensure process safety information is accurate and in place, provide a hazard analysis of the facility in the event of a chemical release and its impact, provide refresher training to chemical operators on the epichlorohydrin process, inspect and test epichlorohydrin piping within the process building, and identify deficiencies in process safety management compliance audits. A serious violation occurs when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. That citation carries $38,500 in penalties.

Cardolite Corp. employs 70 workers at its Newark location. The company develops and manufactures products based on cashew nutshell liquid for the coating, friction material and adhesive markets.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 04:08 PM gHale

Franklin Non-Ferrous Foundry Inc. faces $185,900 in fines for four willful and serious violations of workplace health and safety standards, chiefly involving a failure to protect workers from exposure to lead, said Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials.

The foundry, located in Franklin, NH, received the fines following an inspection by OSHA’s Concord Area Office in January to verify the abatement of hazards cited by the agency in 2009.

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This most recent inspection found two employees exposed to excessive levels of lead during foundry operations as well as a lack of sufficient engineering controls to reduce lead exposure levels. Management also failed to conduct additional lead exposure monitoring when they used alloys with higher lead content and the ventilation system was not working. In addition, management failed to regularly measure the ventilation system to gauge its effectiveness in controlling lead exposure, and they did not use respirators when required.

These conditions led to OSHA issuing citations with $181,500 in proposed penalties for three willful violations. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

“This employer is well aware of the necessary procedures to safeguard workers against lead exposure hazards, having been cited for 62 violations of OSHA’s lead standard since 1998, yet has chosen again to disregard them,” said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA’s area director in New Hampshire. “The sizable fines proposed here reflect not only the severity of these hazards but this employer’s clear knowledge of and failure to address them.”

A citation with a $4,400 fine was for one serious violation involving employees overexposed to airborne copper fumes during pouring operations and a lack of controls to reduce the exposure level. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA placed Franklin Non-Ferrous Foundry Inc. in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.

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