North Smithfield trucking company agrees to EPA payout over chemical violations

North Smithfield trucking company agrees to EPA payout over chemical violations

NORTH SMITHFIELD – A North Smithfield trucking company has agreed to pay a $314,658 penalty for alleged violations of federal chemical safety regulations at its Industrial Drive facility.

N&D Transportation Company of 100 Industrial Drive was accused by the Environmental Protection Agency of violating chemical accident prevention measures and reporting requirements mandated by federal law. The company agreed to a settlement of $314,658 to resolve the violations.

According to a press release from the EPA, an inspection uncovered several concerns at the facility, including incompatible chemicals improperly stored together, water reactive chemicals kept near a sprinkler system, a failure to submit a Clean Air Act risk management plan, a failure to conduct a process hazard analysis and a failure to submit reports to state and local planning authorities.

The EPA also said that local and state fire personnel were apparently unaware that “extremely hazardous substances” were stored at the facility.

The extremely hazardous substances discovered at the facility include formaldehyde, toluene diisocyanate (TDI), peracetic acid and sulfuric acid. The EPA said the alleged violations have since been corrected.

While the EPA did not discover any actual release of chemicals at the site, Dave Deegan, spokesperson for the EPA, said the failure to notify local authorities could have posed a risk to emergency responders.

“The failure to notify local emergency response authorities about the presence of hazardous chemicals increased the risk posed to emergency response personnel had there been an accident at the facility requiring firefighters or police to respond,” he told The Breeze in an email.

Additionally, Deegan said the violations increased the risk to workers and neighbors of the facility.

“The violations documented during our investigation did increase the risks posed to workers at the facility and to people living in the nearby vicinity. The improper storage and handling of chemicals increased the risk of accidental release or combustion at the facility,” he said.

The N&D facility is located in the Industrial Drive commercial complex near the banks of the Branch River. According to the EPA, the closest resident lives less than a 10th of a mile away.

North Smithfield Fire and Rescue Chief David Chartier said the department was notified of the issue by the State Fire Marshal’s Office. The EPA, he said, first became aware of it when they were looking into the closing of a chemical company in Warwick and learned some of the substances were being moved and stored in North Smithfield.

“Now that they were there, there were some storage issues and things of that nature that needed to be addressed. There were clearly some violations,” he said.

North Smithfield Fire and Rescue, along with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, participated in the inspection along with EPA, he said.

Chartier said sites with hazardous chemicals are flagged in the department’s dispatch system so first responders are aware of the materials before they respond to an emergency.

The federal government maintains strict standards for reporting and storage of hazardous chemicals, many of them included in the Clean Air Act and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. Deborah Szaro, New England acting regional administrator for the EPA, said in a statement the settlement shows those requirements are in place for a reason.

“EPA’s enforcement action, and the company’s subsequent actions in response to it, have resulted in a safer facility and helped protect human health and the environment in the surrounding community,” she said.

The EPA also coordinated on the case with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, Department of Homeland Security and Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. The case was part of the EPA Chemical Accident Risk Reduction National Compliance Initiative.

N&D Transportation Company did not respond to a request for comment for this story.