Reference News Release: Justice Department and EPA Enter into Settlement with Harcros Chemicals to Improve Its Accident Prevention and Fire Protection Measures
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that Harcros Chemicals Inc. has entered into a proposed agreement to settle claims that Harcros violated provisions of the Clean Air Act aimed at preventing accidental releases of chemicals that can have serious consequences for public health, safety and the environment. Under the proposed agreement, Harcros will assure that its accident prevention program complies with all applicable requirements.
Headquartered in Kansas City, Kan., Harcros maintains and operates 31 facilities in 19 states that manufacture, blend, repackage, and distribute a wide variety of commercial chemicals, including extremely hazardous substances.
“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 the 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.”
“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 the Justice Department’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.”
Under the proposed settlement, Harcros will audit 28 of its facilities to identify and correct any potential violations of its risk management program and comply with Clean Air Act requirements that facilities adequately assess hazards, undertake measures to prevent accidents, and be prepared to effectively address such accidents when they do occur. Harcros will correct any violations identified in the audits according to a schedule set forth in the agreement. The settlement agreement also requires Harcros to pay a $950,000 penalty.
Also, as part of today’s agreement, Harcros will install foam-based sprinkler systems at eight of its facilities. The enhanced fire suppression system is expected to minimize the impacts of an accident by enhancing the speed and effectiveness of the facilities’ ability to extinguish the flames and prevent spread of chemicals.
The proposed settlement reflects the fact that Harcros Chemicals initially brought these violations to the attention of the EPA. In addition, Harcros cooperated fully with the Justice Department and the EPA during the negotiation of the consent decree.
The proposed consent decree was lodged with the United States 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 lodged today is available on the Department of Justice website at: http://www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.
For more information about today’s agreement, visit https://19january2021snapshot.epa.gov/enforcement/harcros-chemicals-inc-clean-air-act-settlement.