Two plating shops in California and Arizona are facing huge fines after local officials deemed they violated environmental laws and regulations in storing hazardous waste.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fined TMW Corporation – which operates Crown Chome Plating in Van Nuys, CA ‑ $100,000 for violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act during an inspection conducted by EPA in April 2009. The facility does metal plating primarily for the aerospace industry.
Violations included storage of hazardous waste for over 90 days without a permit; failure to conduct required inspections; failure to train personnel or maintain training records; failure to maintain required emergency communications equipment; failure to make a hazardous waste determination.
“The toxic wastes and sludges at the Crown Chrome facility have the potential to pose a danger to employees, the surrounding community and the environment,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest.
The action against Crown Chrome came from the Los Angeles Enforcement Collaborative, which comprises federal, state and local regulatory agencies that formed to focus resources over a multi-year effort to ensure that businesses and industries in this area are complying with environmental laws. The group includes the U.S. EPA, Cal/EPA, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, and the California Air Resources Board as well as local non-profit organizations to improve environmental and public health conditions in Los Angeles communities.
In Arizona, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and Arizona Attorney General’s Office announced in June that Metco Metal Finishing Inc. will pay a $75,000 penalty as part of a consent judgment entered in Maricopa County Superior Court for hazardous waste violations at the South Phoenix plating facility.
In addition, Metco Metal Finishing will spend $50,000 for an as yet undetermined supplemental environmental project, institute an environmental management system at its plant, and conduct regular audits by a third party for three years.
The settlement with Metco brings to 12 the number of electroplating facilities in Arizona brought into compliance with hazardous-waste rules under ADEQ's "Plating Initiative." ADEQ launched the initiative in 2008 after facility inspections beginning in 2004 determined that many facilities were not in compliance with the Arizona Hazardous Waste Act, which regulates hazardous waste in the state.
The company was cited for a total of 26 violations following ADEQ inspections in 2006 and 2007. The violations include disposal of hazardous waste without a permit, failing to properly mark containers, and failing to determine if some stored materials were hazardous waste. In 2005, Metco Metal Finishing paid a $100,000 penalty for hazardous waste violations after a cyanide gas release left two employees unconscious in late 2003.
"Their inappropriate management of hazardous waste put employees and the community at risk but the company has stepped up and improved the way it does business," ADEQ Director Henry Darwin said.