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Sanitary Board Alleges Serious Violations by Special Metals; EPA Data Reveals History of Non-Compliance on Some Permits
Utilized in the making of stainless steel, electroplating of chrome, and dyes, the two most common types are chromium 6 (which has been associated with birth defects and cancer), that in humans can cause skin rashes, stomach and intestinal bleeding, cramps, kidney and liver damage to lung cancer (by inhalation). The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ASTOR) states that “high levels of chromium can damage the nose and cause cancer. Ingesting high levels of chromium(VI) may result in anemia or damage to the stomach or intestines.”
Scientific American also has concluded that chromium in drinking water causes cancer. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=chromium-water-cancer .
Most people would associate the chemical to the film, “Erin Brockovich”, where Julia Roberts plays a law clerk who traced a cluster of health problems to a Pacific Gas and Electric plant where hexavalent chromium leeched into the groundwater and spread. The chemical according to PBS is found in the drinking water from 30 out of 35 cities.
Ingesting nickel can be harmful, too. A child died from accidentally eating 20,360 parts of nickel per million, workers drinking from a fountain had stomach aches, increased red blood cells and kidney damage, an allergic reaction like asthma may be stimulated by ingesting nickel, and inhalation has in workers caused nasal and lung cancers from inhalation.
Mercury, which is one of the elements named in the consent decree, is toxic to the human nervous system and brain in all forms.
CHROMIUM IN ZIP CODE 25705
An EPA compilation of toxic chemicals released to water in 2011 attributes over 90% of the 25705 sources to be Special Metals/Huntington Alloys, which released approximately 135 pounds of chemicals in water including about 70 pounds of nickel compounds and about ten pounds of chromium. Similarly, 62,716 pounds of chemicals were “transferred” mostly from that same facility of which 68% were nickel compounds and 22% were chromium. The air in that zip code absorbed about 30,695 pounds of chemicals of which 23% are nickel compounds and 8% are chromium. http://www2.epa.gov/toxics-release-inventory-tri-program
A “draft consent order” would fine Special Metals over $254,000 for alleged Ph related discharges into the sewer system. Josh Jondro, a chemical engineer, explains that Ph excursions are incidents where waste water has been discharged into the sewer system outside of permissible levels.
Huntington Mayor Steve Williams told the Herald Dispatch that as chairman of the HSB he is still trying to “get my arms fully around the issue.”
Alex Vence, a member of the Huntington Sanitary Board of Directors, told the Herald Dispatch that issues date back to 1999.
The draft consent decree sent to Special Metals, which operates a 130 acre industrial facility in Altizer, stated that violations “have endangered water quality, human health and/or the proper functioning of the Board's facilities."
According to the HD report, the consent decree was sent August 15, 2013; however, Kit Anderson, HSB executive director, resigned during an HSB meeting, apparently, due to disagreements on labor/management issues. The Board ratified the agreement by a 2-1 vote.
EPA data obtained online indicates that Special Metals (Huntington Alloys) has multiple discharge permits, which require regular sampling. You can download PDF attachments of EPA documents found by HNN at the conclusion of the story.
For instance, according to Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO), a Chromium effluent gross has exceeded the maximum levels on these recent quarterly reports, March 31, 2013, September 30, 2012, March 31, 2012, September 30, 2011, December 31, 2010, and September 30, 2010. The consent order includes allegations that chromium, mercury and nickel concentrations are among the alleged violations.
Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCCA), which applies to some hazardous wastes, portions of the facility have been labeled as SNL, significantly noncompliant, dating back to 2011. The RCCA matters appear to relate to tank issues. (Download PDF Attachment 10 , below.)
Although the full contents of the proposed order have yet to be released, an inspection of EPA data indicates that chemicals such as chromium and nickel have been transferred to the HSB’s Waste Water Treatment Plant. (Download PDF Attachment 5, below).
Potentially pertinent EPA data for download are: a list of Special Metals discharges, Special Metals formal enforcement actions, Special Metals Inspections, Special Metals Clean Water Act data, Waste Activities including the waste treatment plant and landfill disposal, Special Metals permits, Permit for Nickel Carbonyl and Beryllium , Permit Results through 2008 of beryllium and nickel carbonyl, late compliance reports, and RCCA non-compliance 2011-2013.
EPA LISTS SEPTEMBER 2012 EMERGENCY
An examination of the EPA data also reveals: (1) an emergency occurred September 21, 2012 and the incident was stabilized on September 22, 2012; and (2) one permit dating back to 2008 expired which included sampling for substances such as beryllium and nickel carbonyl.
The following chemicals are discharged by the plant, according to the EPA link.
This link explains 2011 permit limits:
- Special Metals Discharges EPA ECHO (117.12 KB)
- Special Metals Formal Enforcement (90.2 KB)
- Special Metals Inspections (95.6 KB)
- Special Metals CWA (149.96 KB)
- Waste Activities incc. to Waste Treatment Plant (739.41 KB)
- Detailed Permit Facility Report (111.22 KB)
- Permit for Nickel Carbonyl and Berillium exp. 2008 (189.36 KB)
- Permit Results thru 2008 Berrilium Nickel Carbonyl Nickel (410.2 KB)
- Late Compliance Reports (107.75 KB)
- RCCA non-compliance 2011-2013, tanks (180.68 KB)