The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday ordered Hovensa to improve its programs and plans that help prevent chemical releases and provide prompt detection and response when incidents and releases do occur.
EPA spokesman John Martin said Thursday no fine is associated with the order at this time.
“It’s us telling them they need to get their act together,” Martin said.
Hovensa has 15 days to let EPA know how it plans to address the issues cited by EPA, Martin said. The order indicates that within those 15 days, which started Wednesday, the company has to indicate in writing the name and qualifications of the project coordinator that will bring Hovensa up to snuff.
Within 30 days, Hovensa must submit a schedule for coming into compliance, including how the company plans to prevent further incidents. Hovensa has one year to accomplish its plan. When the jobs are done, Hovensa has 30 days to submit a report.
Hovensa spokesman Steve Strahan said that the company just received the EPA order Thursday afternoon.
“We’re not in a position to make any statement until we’ve had time to study and understand it,” he said.
In a press release issued Thursday, EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck said that there were too many chemical releases, including three since January, and other potentially dangerous incidents at Hovensa in recent years.
“Equipment at the Hovensa facility needs to be properly maintained and workers well trained to protect people living nearby from exposure to dangerous chemicals,” she said.
EPA discovered the violations at Hovensa during a January 2011 inspection.
The order cites a dozen incidents and releases cited at the plant, beginning Oct. 28, 2009, and endig May 11.
While Hovensa does have a risk management program and a plan in place, EPA found it to be inadequate, the press release said. Among the violations identified in the order were failure to maintain plant equipment, failure to take steps to identify problems before they occur, failure to provide training to employees on the control of hazards during operations, and failure to ensure that established operating procedures were being followed. EPA is requiring Hovensa to address these and other violations according to a schedule laid out in the order.
According to the EPA press release, the company violated provisions of the federal Clean Air Act related to the development of risk management programs and the submission of risk management plans for facilities that handle flammable and toxic chemicals. Under the Clean Air Act, facilities that manufacture, process, use, store or handle regulated flammable and toxic chemicals above specified levels are required to develop risk management programs and submit risk management plans.
Facilities are required to update and resubmit their risk management plans at least once every five years, the press release indicates.
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