Harcros Chemicals Settlement to Boost Fire Safety at Eight Sites

DOJ and EPA announced the settlement this week of claims that the company violated Clean Air Act provisions intended to prevent accidental releases of chemicals.

Harcros Chemicals Inc. has agreed to pay a $950,000 penalty and to install foam-based fire suppression systems at eight of its warehouses, under the terms of a proposed settlement announced this week by the Department of Justice and EPA. It settles claims that the company violated Clean Air Act provisions intended to prevent accidental releases of chemicals.

Under the proposed agreement, Harcros will work to ensure that its accident prevention program complies with all applicable requirements. The company is headquartered in Kansas City, Kansas, and operates 31 facilities in 19 states that manufacture, blend, repackage, and distribute a wide variety of commercial chemicals, including extremely hazardous substances.

"This resolution ensures that Harcros complies with important Clean Air Act requirements that seek to prevent catastrophic releases of hazardous chemicals to the environment," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of DOJ's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "Today's action shows that DOJ and EPA are serious about enforcing compliance with the Clean Air Act and protecting American workers and their communities from risks associated with accidental releases of hazardous substances. We also appreciate the positive cooperation that we received from Harcros during the resolution of this matter."

The company does not admit any liability in the settlement. The proposed consent decree says Harcros Chemicals failed to develop Risk Management Plans and/or to comply with EPA's Risk Management Program at some of its sites.

The cost of implementing the fire suppression system is about $2.5 million, it states.

"This important agreement will improve chemical safety and minimize the risk of accidental releases at Harcros' facilities nationwide," said Acting Assistant Administrator Larry Starfield of EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "It is a priority for EPA to ensure that companies properly manage risks posed by chemicals in a way that protects communities from accidental releases."

The agreement calls for Harcros to audit 28 of its facilities to identify and correct any potential violations of its risk management program, comply with Clean Air Act requirements, and be prepared to effectively address accidents when they do occur. The proposed settlement reflects the fact that Harcros Chemicals initially brought the violations to the attention of the EPA and cooperated fully with the two federal agencies the negotiation of the consent decree, which was filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas and will be subject to a 30-day public comment period following its publication in the Federal Register. A copy of the consent decree is available at http://www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

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