Fish Oil Producer Caught Failing to Report Sulfuric Acid Storage

Ocean Protein LLC has settled with the Environmental Protection Agency and agreed to pay a $13,166 penalty for violating the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). According to EPA, the company failed to properly report the storage of sulfuric acid at its fish waste processing facility located in Hoquiam, Wash.

The company, which produces fish meal, fish oil, and bone meal from fish wastes using sulfuric acid, among other chemicals, is required to file Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory Forms with local emergency response entities in Washington but failed to do so, EPA said.

In addition to the penalty, Ocean Protein agreed to provide more than $8,800 for training and equipment to the City of Hoquiam Fire Department to improve the department's capabilities in responding to hazardous materials emergencies in a safe and effective manner, EPA said.

"Community safety and preventing chemical accidents are a top priority for EPA," said Edward Kowalski, director of EPA’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle. "We're committed to reducing the likelihood and severity of accidental chemical releases by enforcing the law and creating a level playing field for industry."

Sulfuric acid is a clear, colorless, odorless liquid that is very corrosive and can cause severe burns. It is harmful if inhaled, ingested, or comes in contact with skin, the agency noted.

Facilities that store significant quantities of certain hazardous chemicals are required to submit an inventory of each chemical to the State Emergency Response Commission, the Local Emergency Planning Committee, and the local fire department. Emergency responders rely on this information for their safety and to help protect nearby residents during an emergency, such as a fire or earthquake. Citizens can also access the information to find out what chemicals are being stored and used in their neighborhoods.

For information on EPA's Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, visit www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/epcra/epcraenfstatreq.html. For more about toxic effects of sulfuric acid (from the NIOSH Guide), go to www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/sulfuric-acid/.

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