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2 Railcar Cleaners Face EPA Action

Friday, November 18, 2016

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Two railcar cleaning facilities in different parts of the U.S. are facing orders from the Environmental Protection Agency over their handling of hazardous waste.

One company, the Delaware-based Dana Container, faces $12,000 in fines as part of a settlement with the EPA over the handling and labeling of containers of waste. The other, Omaha-based Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services LLC, has not been fined, but has been ordered to immediately take steps to protect the public from risks posed by allegedly improperly stored crude oil and ethanol.

$12K in Fines for Delaware Firm

Dana Container, of Wilmington, DE, entered into a settlement over its violations in October. The allegations stemmed from a January 2016 inspection that the EPA says uncovered violations related to hazardous materials such as benzene, vinyl acetate and waste solvent.

EPA headquarters
Fletcher6, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The EPA has taken action against two railcar cleaning companies over alleged violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

Allegations against Dana Container include violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act related to the failure to ship hazardous waste offsite in a timely manner, failure to keep proper records, and failure to maintain an adequate contingency plan.

As part of the settlement, Dana Container did not admit liability, but certified compliance on the matters cited by the EPA.

Dana Background

Dana Container is part of The Dana Companies, based in Avenel, NJ. Dana Container and Dana Rail Care share the Wilmington site where the violations were allegedly uncovered. The Dana Companies also include firms dedicated to short- and long-haul chemical transport, and liquid tank transport to the Carribean.

Dana has terminals throughout the eastern half of the U.S. Dana officials did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Thursday (Nov. 17) and did not respond to earlier requests for comment from other news outlets. 

Nebraska Railcar Order

The EPA issued what it calls an Imminent and Substantial Endangerment Administrative Order to Nebraska Railcar on Sept. 27, but only made the order public Nov. 10. The order, made under the RCRA, calls for the company to immediately engage in hazardous waste determinations at its sites, and dispose of hazardous materials as required by law.

railcars
© iStock.com / BrianBrownImages

The EPA issued what it calls an Imminent and Substantial Endangerment Administrative Order to Nebraska Railcar on Nov. 10.

The EPA order references a deadly incident in April 2015 in which two workers were killed in an explosion at one of Nebraska Railcar’s Omaha facilities. That incident led the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue 33 violations to the company, carrying a total proposed fine of $963,000, and to place Nebraska Railcar in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Those violations, issued in October 2015, are still listed as under contest as of Thursday (Nov. 17).

At the time, OSHA alleged that air quality in confined spaces—specifically the railcars being worked on—was not properly monitored, and workers at the site were not properly fit-tested for respirators.

Other violations related to:

  • Fall hazards;
  • Lack of hazardous materials training;
  • Lack of hazardous waste programs;
  • Failure to label chemical hazards;
  • Lack of a hearing conservation program;
  • Lack of first aid and fire extinguisher training;
  • Electrical safety violations; and
  • Failure to train workers on safely operating powered industrial vehicles.

In 2013, the company paid a total of $6,856 as part of two informal settlements with OSHA, covering a total of eight violations (three “serious” and five classified as “other”). In 2015, as a result of a follow-up inspection in March, the company faced three more violations, which, after an informal settlement, cost the firm $3,800.

Daily Fines Possible

The new EPA order relates to the solid and liquid crude oil and ethanol and methanol waste generated at Nebraska Railcar’s facilities. The materials “are highly volatile, as demonstrated by low flash points and a deadly explosion in April 2015 involving these materials,” the EPA says.

Hazardous waste labels
© iStock.com / SteveDF

The new EPA order against Nebraska Railcar relates to the solid and liquid crude oil and ethanol and methanol waste generated at the firm's facilities.

The agency says more recent on-site inspections indicate that the company “continues to improperly manage its hazardous waste, contrary to RCRA requirements.”

A representative of Nebraska Railcar who answered the company’s phone Thursday (Nov. 17) said the company was not commenting on the order at this time.

The company is ordered to immediately address the issues presented, and to provide regular reports on its waste disposal practices to EPA Region 7. Failure to comply, the agency says, could result in civil penalties of at least $14,023 per violation per day.

   

Tagged categories: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Hazardous waste; Health & Safety; Health and safety; North America; OSHA; Railcars; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); Violations

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