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EPA settles with Hawaii Gas over violations

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The US EPA has settled with Hawaii Gas for a penalty of US$ 155 000 for risk management plan and chemical release reporting violations at its facility in Kapolei, Oahu. ‘Risk management plans are critical components of safety programs designed to prevent chemical accidents,’ said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. ‘They must be carried out diligently to protect workers, nearby residents and the local environment.’

The facility in question manufactures synthetic natural gas for us on Oahu. In January 2012 the EPA conducted an inspection of the facility, which included an audit of records going back five years. The inspection found several violations of the risk management plan regulations and the company subsequently corrected the violations and agreed to pay a penalty of US$ 136 000.

Further, inspectors found that on September 4th 2010, the facility released 3585 lbs of sodium hydroxide. Although this amount was above the federal reportable quantity of 1000 lbs, it was only reported to state and local authorities, and not the federal National Response Centre. The release has since been reported to the NRC and the company also agreed to pay a penalty of US$ 19 000. No health or environmental impacts resulted from the release, which was made to a permitted underground injection well.

The violations

Hawaii gas violated the risk management plan regulations on several counts, including failure to:

  • Certify annually that its operating procedures were current and accurate.
  • Provide refresher training to employees and assure they understand and adhere to the operating procedures.
  • Conduct a compliance audit every three years.
  • Ensure that the frequency of inspections and tests of equipment were consistent with good engineering practices and manufacturer recommendations.

Adapted from press release by Claira Lloyd

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