Department of Ecology News Release - June 24, 2016

Response contractor, ag supplier settle hazardous waste violations

UNION GAP– A global environmental response company and a Wenatchee agricultural supplier have agreed to pay $39,330 to settle hazardous waste violations associated with mishandling wastewater containing the fumigant methyl bromide.

In June 2015, emergency response contractor NRC Environmental Services, Inc. (NRC) was hired by Northwest Wholesale Inc., to manage cleanup after a fire burned the facility and damaged containers of methyl bromide gas, posing a health and safety hazard. NRC took appropriate steps to safely purge the gas from the containers, which produced about 14,000 gallons of highly acidic wastewater in the process. The wastewater was stored at the site pending disposal.

In January, a Northwest Wholesale manager found that the tank storing the wastewater had drained due to corrosion of an unlined valve. The wastewater leaked into a dry well, requiring cleanup. Some 2,300-gallons of waste material was recovered.

“Once it was discovered, the companies informed us of the leak and both have cooperated during the follow-up investigation,” said Darin Rice, manager of the Department of Ecology’s Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction program. “This release highlights the importance of managing dangerous wastes properly and in a timely manner. Due to delays and improper storage, that didn’t happen in this case.”

Ecology inspectors identified four violations: failing to properly dispose of dangerous waste; accumulating dangerous waste on site for more than 90 days; storing waste in containers not suitable for the waste product; and failing to inspect waste areas weekly as required.

The settlement lowers the recommended penalty from $59,000 and requires Northwest Wholesale and NRC to waive their rights to appeal. This settlement process saves the state, Northwest Wholesale Inc., and NRC the expense of costly litigation.

In a statement, Northwest Wholesale General Manager Ken Knappert said, “Northwest Wholesale is committed to the protection of our environment, and that commitment is reflected in our day-to-day policies and procedures. Due to the June 2015 Sleepy Hollow fire, chemical product at our facility was burned, and the chemical waste byproduct required professional cleanup. Within days, Northwest Wholesale hired a global environmental cleanup company to properly dispose of this waste. Unfortunately, a valve failed in one of the cleanup tanks where the waste was being stored.”

Bob Keesee, NRC vice president, stated, “As an international provider of environmental services, NRC is committed to ongoing compliance with regulations concerning hazardous waste and has taken this opportunity to reemphasize internal policies designed to ensure that such a release will not happen again.”

Contact:

Joye Redfield-Wilder, communications, 509-575-2610; @ecyCentral