Oregon City knife manufacturer fined for hazardous waste spill
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality announced this week a $13,400 civil penalty against Oregon City-based knife manufacturer Benchmade Knives for failing to immediately clean up spilled hazardous waste.
According to a DEQ notice issued last month, Benchmade was fined for a spill of hazardous waste material at their facility located at 300 Beavercreek Road in Oregon City known as swarf, a pasty gray waste created by the company's knife manufacturing process containing hazardous levels of chromium. The penalty was issued because improper management of hazardous waste threatens both human health and the environment.
According to the notice, the incident took place in May 2019 when Benchmade released swarf outside of containment and onto the walls, doors and floors of the facility's central coolant processing room. The hazardous waste was also released past the door and out onto uncovered asphalt where it could be tracked around the facility or contaminate stormwater.
"(Benchmade) had not made efforts to clean up the released swarf," the letter said. "Additionally, swarf had been released from a unit treating used cutting fluid onto the production floor of Building 2, and not cleaned up."
The letter also alleges that the company's contingency plan for a such a spill at their facility did not include details of likely hazards and specific responses to such an emergency, a list of emergency response equipment kept on site, evacuation routes for employees or contact information for emergency coordinators.
DEQ Public Affairs Specialist Lauren Wirtis confirmed to Pamplin Media that Benchmade Knives has given notice they intend to appeal the decision, and staff within DEQ's Office of Compliance are scheduled to meet with the company Wednesday, Jan. 27.
Benchmade Knives did not respond to a request for comment.
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