Massachusetts Packaging Plant Pays Nearly $485K Penalty For Environmental Violations

A packaging company in Dudley, MA has agreed to pay $484,900 in penalties to settle EPA claims that the company violated numerous federal and state regulations.  The violations occurred at the company’s liquid and aerosol packaging facility.  This case is a reminder that environmental regulations regarding hazardous waste sweep broadly and often encompass activities that a typical manufacturing company might not recognize.

According to EPA’s complaint, filed in September 2012, Shield Packaging Company, Inc. (the Company) violated rules regarding hazardous waste management, chemical accident prevention, hazardous chemical inventory reporting, and oil pollution prevention contained in the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Emergency Planning & Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), and the Massachusetts Hazardous Waste Management Regulations.

Among other specific allegations, EPA asserted that the Company violated requirements in the CAA’s chemical accident prevention provisions by not fully developing and putting in place a risk management plan that adequately addressed processes that used extremely hazardous substances.  The Company also failed to submit a required inventory of all hazardous materials on site to emergency responders under EPCRA, and failed to fully implement an Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure plan, as required by federal law. Finally, the Company violated the Massachusetts Hazardous Waste Management Regulations by failing to conduct hazardous waste determinations on wastes at the facility, failing to manage hazardous wastes in accordance with required federal and state management practices, and failing to implement an adequate hazardous waste management training program at the facility.

This situation is particularly notable for the fact that numerous seemingly benign activities resulted in violations leading to serious financial consequences, including materials that may not have been recognized by the Company as “wastes.”  For example, the following observation during inspection resulted in a finding that the Company failed to conduct an adequate hazardous waste determination on each “waste”:

“On the fourth floor of the warehouse to the side of the center aisle, approximately thirty (30) cardboard boxes stored in haphazard fashion containing various sizes of metal, plastic, and aerosol can containers, labeled  ‘Obsolete’...”

Further, it is often a complicated legal question of whether a material is a “waste” or a “hazardous waste.”

The above observation is one of many made by EPA inspectors that lead to numerous alleged violations and, ultimately, a heavy financial penalty.  Given, as shown by this case, that EPA is clearly diligent in its enforcement activities, it is important for facilities to be equally diligent in ensuring that they are complying with all applicable environmental regulations.

If you have questions or concerns about the implications of this case, or would like more information about what your facility can do to ensure full compliance, please do not hesitate to contact Ken Gray (207-791-1212 or kgray@pierceatwood.com), Dixon Pike (207-791-1374 or dpike@pierceatwood.com),  Chip Ahrens (207-791-1298 or pahrens@pierceatwood.com) or John Formella (603-473-2010 or jformella@pierceatwood.com).

Follow us on Twitter @PierceAtwoodEnv

Topics:  Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Environmental Liability, EPA, EPCRA, Hazardous Substances, Manufacturing Facilities

Published In: General Business Updates, Environmental Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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