California Dairy Gives County a Gas Detection System, Settling Case

The Solano County Office of Emergency Services has received $109,062 in emergency response equipment as the result of a settlement reached by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with Super Store Industries (SSI), a Stockton, Calif.-based company that provides dairy products, warehousing, and distribution services. The company donated equipment to the Solano County Interagency Hazmat Team as part of a supplemental environmental project following a settlement with EPA.

In September 2009, EPA settled with SSI following alleged violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act at a facility that processes dairy products in Fairfield, Calif. For reporting years 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 the facility was required to submit toxic chemical release inventory reporting forms for nitric acid otherwise used and nitrate compounds manufactured at the location. An EPA inspection discovered that the facility failed to submit the required information by the reporting deadlines.

Under the terms of the settlement, SSI has agreed to pay a cash penalty of $30,117 and complete a supplemental environmental project. EPA noted that many federal actions against businesses for failure to comply with the environmental laws are resolved through settlement agreements. As part of a settlement, an alleged violator may voluntarily agree to undertake an environmentally beneficial project related to the violation in exchange for mitigation of the penalty to be paid.

SSI chose to donate a RAE Systems gas monitoring system designed to be used during an atmospheric release of gas, as well as 42 radiation pagers designed to allow the county's first responders to immediately detect the presence of radiation in an area and enable them to determine a safe distance from the source and establish perimeters to keep communities safe.

Federal emergency planning laws require facilities processing more than 25,000 pounds of the chemicals at issue in this case to report releases of the chemicals on an annual basis to the EPA and the state. Each year the EPA compiles information submitted from the previous year regarding toxic chemical releases and produces a national Toxics Release Inventory database for public availability. This database estimates the amounts of each toxic chemical released to the environment, treated or recycled on-site, or transferred off-site for waste management, and also provides a trend analysis of toxic chemical releases.

Solano County is located in California's Bay-Delta region, about halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento. RAE Systems is based in San Jose, Calif.

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