UPDATED: A chemical company with a manufacturing plant in Columbia County is expected to pay close to a half-million dollars in civil fines and donate nearly $1 million for local communities to purchase emergency equipment to settle a federal court case stemming from ammonia releases from the plant between 2010 and 2015.
Dyno Nobel Inc., which operates a manufacturing plant in Deer Island off of Highway 30, was issued a civil penalty by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Under terms of a proposed settlement, the company would pay $492,000 in fines and provide $939,852 in emergency equipment for local communities after allegedly violating federal laws to protect the public and first responders from dangerous chemicals, a Tuesday, June 25, press release from the EPA notes.
Dyno Nobel has agreed to the terms of the settlement, according to the press release.
In a prepared statement from Dyno Nobel which was released Tuesday, June 25, the company announced it will purchase equipment for Columbia River Fire and Rescue and the Scappoose Fire District as a supplement environmental project as part of the agreement.
The EPA alleges 14 counts of federal law violations between 2010 and 2015 in its complaint against the company, including violations of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. The company failed "to immediately report to federal, state and local agencies large, unplanned ammonia releases in 2010 and 2015," according to the press release, and failed "to accurately estimate and report the total amount of routine ammonia releases from the facility to EPA's publicly available Toxic Release Inventory."
Dyno Nobel, a Salt Lake City company, makes anhydrous ammonia and related chemicals, like nitric acid, which are used in fertilizer, refrigerant and agricultural and industrial applications, at its Deer Island facility. The plant employs 80 people and operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
"Facilities that store and use hazardous materials like anhydrous ammonia have a special obligation to follow regulations designed to protect our communities and environment from potentially catastrophic consequences of accidents," Chris Hladick, regional administrator for EPA Region 10, stated in the release. "Failure to comply with the law puts first responders and members of the surrounding community in harm's way."
The EPA has also charged Dyno Nobel with failure to comply with the Clean Air Act, which requires facilities storing more than 10,000 pounds of ammonia to a have risk management program in place to ensure workers are properly trained so as to minimize the risk of a spill or accidental release. Dyno Nobel failed to maintain necessary equipment and regularly test the equipment, and did not develop and implement a written plan for operating procedures, information which is used by local emergency responders to prepare for chemical accidents, the press release explained.
Representatives from Dyno Nobel released a prepared statement Tuesday afternoon.
"We have worked cooperatively with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the past eight-plus years to address these matters. Independent of its work with EPA, Dyno Nobel has implemented extensive upgrades to the facility to better manage emissions and improve our reporting protocols," Jeffrey Droubay, Senior Vice President/Legal and Business Affairs for Dyno Nobel, said in part in the statement. "The health and safety of our employees and communities in which we operate is our first priority, and we thank EPA for allowing us to incorporate the Supplemental Environmental Project into the settlement."
In 2018, Dyno Nobel was issued a felony penalty of $250,000 in a criminal plea agreement for the 2015 ammonia releases, which were reported late to the EPA. The company was also required to conduct a source test for emission from the vent scrubber and install a fence-line ammonia monitoring system.
The proposed settlement agreement will sit with the U.S. District Court of Oregon for 30-days, where it is open for public comment. More information on the settlement, and to read the consent decree, is available at "http://www.epa.gov/enforcement/dyno-nobel-information-sheet" www.epa.gov/enforcement/dyno-nobel-information-sheet.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Dyno Nobel which was made available Tuesday afternoon, after the story first published.
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