Source: http://usnews.nbcnews.com, September 19, 2013
By: Alexander Smith
A fire engulfed a chemical plant in Oklahoma early Thursday, heating pressurized containers and causing several explosions, authorities said.
The Danlin plant in Thomas, Okla., caught fire at 10 p.m. local time (11 p.m. ET) Wednesday, according to fire officials.
Contrary to previous statements by the Thomas Fire Department, emergency management director for Custer County Mike Galloway said officials now believe the explosions were caused by the fire rather than the other way around.
“The complex consists of a warehouse, a lab and an office, and the fire is what caused the explosions because pressurized containers within the facility were heated up,” Galloway said.
Buck Jones, chief of the Thomas Police Department, said no employees were working at the site at the time but about a dozen residents were evacuated from the area.
No injuries were immediately reported.
According to Galloway, the fire had largely burned itself out, save for a few small areas, by 8 a.m. (9 a.m. ET) Thursday.
“It will be a few hours yet before it all cools down and we can do a walk-through,” he said.
There was no risk to the public from the burning chemicals, which were mostly methanol. “Methanol burns like alcohol so once it’s in flame it burns right off,” Galloway said.
The plant was a 13-acre facility that employed 75 people in Thomas, which has a population of around 1,100.
About 30 personnel were at the scene from Thomas Fire Department, Custer City Fire Department, Custer City Police Department, and Custer County Sheriff’s Office, the police chief said.
Emergency personnel were waiting for the fire to burn out on its own accord instead of entering the building.…
Source: http://www.spencerfane.com, April 21, 2013
By: Andrew Brought
One of the largest food production companies in the world has agreed to resolve violations of EPA’s Risk Management Program (RMP), Clean Air Act Section 112(r), 40 CFR Part 68, stemming from failures associated with its storage and management of the refrigerant anhydrous ammonia. As part of a federal Consent Decree currently subject to public comment until May 10, 2013, Tyson Foods, Inc., is agreeing to pay a $3.95 million civil penalty and fund a $300,000 Supplement Environmental Project (SEP) through the purchase of emergency response equipment.
In addition to the monetary component, EPA is requiring Tyson to conduct third-party audits of its RMP compliance at all 23 of its facilities in EPA Region 7 states (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska). In addition, Tyson has agreed to perform non-destructive testing of certain piping used in its refrigeration systems. The non-destructive testing is intended to identify piping that was partly responsible for some of the anhydrous ammonia releases.…
Source: http://usnews.nbcnews.com, April 18, 2013
By: M. Alex Johnson, John Newland and Tracy Connor, NBC News
Rescue crews were going door to door Thursday in the ruins of a small Texas town where a fertilizer-plant explosion killed at least 5 to 15 people, wounded more than 160 and destroyed dozens of home and businesses, including a nursing home.
“I don’t know how many folks may still be trapped in rubble,” said Sgt. William Patrick Swanton, adding that police were also coping with looters in the area.
“Homes have been destroyed. There are homes flattened. Part of that community is gone.”
Those still missing included three to five firefighters who were battling a blaze at the plant when it blew up just before 8 p.m. Wednesday, shaking the ground with the force of a magnitude-2.1 earthquake and unleashing a plume of smoke over the farming town of West.
“It just sucked you in and just threw you to the ground,” resident Crystal Jerigan told TODAY, describing how she grabbed her two daughters out of a car and dove through the front door of their house.
There was no indication of criminal activity, although the area was being treated as a crime scene as a precautionary measure, said Swanton, who works for the police department in Waco, about 20 miles away from West.
“It was a huge explosion,” he said. “It reached blocks, if not miles, in its devastating effect. … My guess is going to be that … we will see the casualty rate rise and the injury rate rise.”…
Source: Rockland County Times (NY), February 7, 2013
By: Michael Riconda
After decades of problems in the Torne Valley due to contamination from the dumping of paint sludge, the Ford Motor Company finally begun hazardous waste cleanup near the Ramapo River on January 28.
Cleanup was initiated last Monday, focusing upon Operable Unit 1 (OU1), a well field and top priority among three operable units. OU1’s cleanup is expected to conclude around May 15.
Initial construction consists of the preliminary construction of a road and lay down table to prepare for the actual collection, screening, and removal of paint sludge which had been dumped in the area when the Ford Motor Company owned a plant in Mahwah from 1965 to 1980.
Cornell Cooperative Extension environmental educator and restoration consultant Chuck Stead said that the restoration will not only replace native plants and trees, but will also include a Native American medicine garden in a reconciliation effort between Ford Motors and the Ramapo Indian Nation, one of the main groups affected by the pollution.
“Ford’s got a terrible, tenacious, and conflicted relationship with the Ramapo nation, given what happened up in Ringwood,” Stead explained. “This is the first step towards creating some sort of healing around that relationship.”
The cleanup was a result not of the lawsuits which had been leveled against Ford over the health effects of the sludge, but of ongoing activism, research, and negotiations. Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence negotiated the matter with Ford Motors and obtained a full cleanup agreement without litigation.
Stead stated that with luck, the progress will set a precedent for other areas affected by paint sludge, including Ringwood, New Jersey, which was contaminated by tainted Mahwah River water.
“With painstaking and relentless negotiation, you can get this done without going to court,” Stead explained.
The Ford plant boasted of being the nation’s largest when it opened in 1955, but for several years they were not a friendly neighbor, infecting the region with the sludge. Finally, generations later, the company is cleaning up its mess.
Source: The Telegraph (GA), January 31, 2013
By: S. Heather Duncan
Gary Sharp had lived in Juliette near Plant Scherer almost 15 years when he was diagnosed with lung cancer last year. He’s never smoked.
But he’s seen something like light gray mud hauled out of the plant and slopped all over Ga. 87 in front of his house. He wonders about that mud now.
Sharp is in Tennessee receiving chemotherapy for his cancer, but his lawyer filed suit against the owners of Plant Scherer and the nearby Vulcan Materials rock quarry on Thursday. The lawsuit — one of 13 filed by a team of Macon and New York attorneys in DeKalb County State Court — accuses the companies of knowingly releasing pollution that contributed to Sharp’s cancer and devalued his property.
Sharp said he is sad and angry about his situation since his lung cancer diagnosis. “It’s turned my life upside down,” said Sharp, who said he lost his trucking company and electrical contracting business when he stopped being able to work. He has a rental property on his land, but it generates no income because he feels he must warn potential tenants that the water could be contaminated.
“I’ve lost my income and my livelihood. It could be that I lose my life,” Sharp said. “Regardless of how (the lawsuit) turns out, the damage it’s caused me physically is unrecoverable.”
All the suits target Scherer and its unlined coal ash waste pond, and a handful also name Vulcan, said Brian Adams, partner with Gautreaux & Adams in Macon. All the lawsuits accuse Plant Scherer and its owners of harming its neighbors’ health and property.
“Their lives have been changed because of this,” Adams said. “They’re angry and they’re disturbed. And at the end of the day, we know it’s just not right.”
The lawsuits allege that the named companies engaged in racketeering, battery, fraud and negligence. The racketeering charge is based on claims that Plant Scherer owners, including Georgia Power and its parent company, Southern Co., conspired to avoid the cost of putting a lining in the 750-acre coal ash pond.…
Source: Chicago Tribune, December 27, 2012
By: Jennifer Delgado
State sues firm, contending it broke law in installing 10 printing presses
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit Thursday against a west suburban bookbinding and printing plant that she said illegally installed equipment that contributes to air pollution.
The 77-page suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges Melrose Park-based Lake Book Manufacturing Inc. broke the law when it didn’t get construction permits before installing 10 printing presses that are capable of emitting “volatile organic materials,” also known as regulated air pollutants.
The attorney general said the company didn’t obtain operating permits for the printing presses and two gas-fired boilers that also can cause pollution.
Madigan is asking the court to force the company to stop using the equipment and pay penalties of up to $50,000 for each violation and an additional $10,000 for each day it illegally operated the machines.
Lake Book Manufacturing could not be reached for comment Thursday evening. According to its website, the company has been producing books for 40 years.
An inspection in November 2010 found that the company didn’t have the proper construction or operating permits from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency before installing some presses, nor did it pay any permit fees, as required by the state’s Environmental Protection Act, according to the lawsuit.
The book manufacturer “had a potential to emit (volatile organic materials) greater than 25 tons per year” starting in 2000, states the lawsuit, which cites information the company provided to the state EPA.…
Source: http://www.sokolovelaw.com, October 22,2012
By: Sokolove Law Staff
A Massachusetts town has filed a class-action chemical exposure lawsuit against three chemical companies over the potential harm caused by high levels of chemicals known as PCBs.
The lawsuit seeks damages on behalf of Lexington and other school districts of Massachusetts with school buildings that are affected by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) made by Pharmacia Corp., Solutia Inc., and Monsanto Co., according to Boston.com.
The suit alleges that the makers of PCBs were aware of the risks that the chemical posed to public health and the environment when it was being used in the construction of schools spanning almost three decades, starting from the 1950s. The class action seeks to represent Massachusetts schools that were built between the 1950s and the 1970s. Monsanto says that the suit lacks merit.
PCBs are known to cause cancer if they build up in the body over a long period. The Lexington Public Schools temporarily shut down Estabrook Elementary School after tests showed high levels of PCBs in the school, writes Boston.com. After spending millions to try and clean it up, the district is in the process of replacing the school.
The manufacturing and use of PCBs was banned by Congress in 1976. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued certain guidelines in 2009 that the schools are instructed to follow to limit exposure to PCBs.
If you or someone you know has been harmed by a personal injury involving chemical exposure, contact Sokolove Law today for free legal consultation and to find out if a personal injury lawyer may be able to help you.…