<a href=”TARA BOZICK, Victoria Advocate, October 15, 2008
Mechanical failure causes emissions release, leads to $5,000 penalty
SEADRIFT – A Seadrift plastic and chemical manufacturing company must pay $5,250 in penalties for emissions caused by a mechanical failure.
The Texas Commission on Environment Quality approved the fine against Dow Seadrift Operations, a subsidiary of the Dow Company, last week as part of a total $3,011,628 against 123 entities for state environmental regulations violations, an agency news release stated.
A mechanical failure led to the loss of cooling water and although the company tried to shut down the plant right away, emissions escaped from three points for 24 minutes on Sept. 26, 2007, spokesperson Trish Ritthaler said.
No harm came to workers or the surrounding community, she said. The company conducted a full investigation and took several corrective actions, including developing procedures for rapid shutdown and emergency response for loss of utilities.
“We never want these things to happen,” Ritthaler said. “We really pride ourselves on our safety performance.”
The company reduced its number of leaks, breaks and spills by 88 percent from 1994 to 2006 and developed more stringent 2015 guidelines, which will keep the number of incidents below 75. The goals also include safety, energy and water efficiency benchmarks.
“It’s really a win-win when we can avoid these kinds of incidents,” Ritthaler said.
Dow Chemical in Brazoria County wasn’t as fortunate last week. TCEQ fined the company $648,904 for numerous air, industrial and hazardous waste violations between 2003 and 2006, the agency news release stated. Part of the fine will contribute $324,452 to the Clean Cities-Clean Vehicles Program in Brazoria County.
WHAT DID THE SEADRIFT PLANT EMIT?
50 pounds of ethylene glycol, a chemical compound used to produce fibers and resins, widely used in coolants like antifreeze
80.48 pounds of carbon monoxide, major industrial gas, also toxic
90.33 pounds of ethylene
16,008.28 pounds of ethylene oxide, used to produce chemicals or as a sterilizing agent, toxic if inhaled
9.36 pounds of nitrogen oxides, a greenhouse gas and contributor to ground-level ozone