On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency reached a settlement with the New England Warehousing Group, LLC (NEWG) after a three year long legal battle for inadequately handling dangerous and toxic chemicals, which violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-know Act (EPCRA).
The defendant owns a facility in West Haven, Connecticut, where they store 10 to 12 products that are “extremely hazardous” and covered by CAA requirements for producing, processing, handling, or storing them. According to the press release, NEWG “handles and stores significant quantities of reportable substances at the facility and, in 2019, stored more than two million pounds total, including the highly flammable liquids ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, methanol, and acetone.” This was incredibly concerning for the EPA since NEWG’s facility “is part of an eight-acre parcel located in a densely populated urban neighborhood” that is surrounded by numerous businesses and houses with several “vulnerable populations,” and is only a few hundred feet from a high-traffic train station. Thus, their unsafe practices “presented substantial risk to human health and the environment, due to the presence of many highly flammable liquids.”
In the settlement, NEWG agreed to pay $109,635 in fines and to certify compliance with CAA and EPCRA guidelines to safely store their hazardous products. The EPA is hoping to improve safety and compliance with their guidelines in chemical warehouses across the country with lawsuits such as these.
EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash said “With this settlement, EPA is sending a strong message to companies that deal with dangerous chemicals – they have an obligation to comply with environmental laws in order to protect the communities where they are located.”