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Harcros Chemicals, Inc. Clean Air Act Settlement

WASHINGTON (July 31, 2017) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice today announced that Harcros Chemicals Inc. has entered into a consent decree that settles claims that Harcros violated provisions of the Clean Air Act that impose requirements regarding prevention of chemical releases from certain facilities. Under the settlement agreement, Harcros will assure that its accident prevention program complies with all applicable requirements.

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Overview of Company

Harcros is an employee-owned corporation with its headquarters in Kansas City, Kansas. Harcros is a manufacturer and distributor of industrial and specialty chemicals with over 550 employees and annual sales of approximately $670 million. Harcros operates 31 facilities located in 19 states covering six EPA Regions, which are all parties to the settlement.

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Harcros and EPA collaboratively developed a settlement structure for a voluntary, global settlement of potential RMP and GDC requirements at their facilities nationwide. The parties mutually negotiated an injunctive relief package which utilizes independent third party audits to identify and correct non-compliance at all Harcros facilities.

Three “pilot” audits were conducted to serve as the starting point for negotiations and development of an injunctive relief package. Independent, third party auditors conducted audits at a representative sample of Harcros facilities in Shreveport, Louisiana, Bessemer, Alabama, and Kansas City, Kansas. 

The audits were conducted in Summer 2016 and revealed deficiencies with the General Duty Clause and Risk Management Program requirements. Specifically, deficiencies included non-compliance with General Duty Clause requirements to identify hazards using appropriate hazard assessment techniques, to design and maintain a safe facility taking such steps as are necessary to prevent releases, and to minimize the consequences of accidental releases which do occur. The facilities subject to Risk Management Program requirements were shown to have not timely and adequately implemented all elements of a Risk Management Program that complies with 40 C.F.R. Part 68. 

Based on the findings of these audits, the parties developed and negotiated a program and schedule for conducting audits and completing corrections for the remainder of the company’s facilities. 

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Injunctive Relief

The injunctive relief set forth in the consent decree requires the performance of audits for GDC and RMP compliance at 29 of Harcros’ facilities. These audits must be conducted and all identified noncompliance corrected pursuant to a schedule set forth in the decree.

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Pollutant Impacts

Several facilities will be implementing process changes to reduce quantities of chemicals on-site to below RMP thresholds. Correction of chemical accident prevention provisions and general duty violations that may be identified by the audits will result in enhanced chemical accident prevention practices and safer handling of chemicals, and will ultimately lower the risk of release or accident that could result in harm to surrounding communities or the environment.

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Health and Environmental Benefits

As part of a supplemental environmental project (SEP), Harcros has agreed to install a foam fire suppression system at eight of its facilities for an overall expected expenditure of $2.49 million.   The enhanced fire suppression system is expected to minimize the impacts of an accident, specifically a fire, by enhancing the speed and effectiveness of the facilities’ ability to extinguish the flames and prevent spread of chemicals.

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Civil Penalty

Harcros will pay a $950,000 penalty to the United States.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comment is available at the Department of Justice.

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For more information, contact:

Sarah LaBoda
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7
11201 Renner Blvd. (Mail Code: CNSLARBR)
Lenexa, KS 66219
(913) 551-7424

Dean B. Ziegel
Waste and Chemical Enforcement Division
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW (Mail Code: 2259A)
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-4038

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