UPDATED LINKS: Dangerous Hydrogen Fluoride Among Water Emissions Sent to Huntington Waste Treatment Plant According to EPA

by Tony Rutherford, Editor
UPDATED LINKS: Dangerous Hydrogen Fluoride Among Water Emissions Sent to Huntington Waste Treatment Plant According to EPA

A summary of uses of Hydrogen Fluoride, which was sent to the Huntington Waste Treatment Plant according to online records from the Environmental Protection Agency , indicate that it is  an important, yet, dangerous and hazardous chemical. (See Attachment #1 pdf, below  )

Its uses range from  refrigerants and herbicides to metal processing specifically aluminum manufacture, material extractions (tantalum, beryllium, titanium, niobium), and metal processing  (surface treatment of stainless steel, aerospace alloys).

Extensive documentation exists concerning first responder and worker actions should a spill or exposure occur.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act Hazardous Substances contains hydrogen fluoride as a hazardous waste. Its hazard rating for firefighting reactivity describes it as a corrosive, that must be extinguished using an agent suitable for the type of fire since poisonous gases are produced during a fire, such as fluorine. Water spray is used to keep fire exposed containers cool. However, direct contact with water and steam produces a toxic and corrosive gas. Hydrogen fluoride reacts with metals (i.e. iron, steel) creating flammable and explosive hydrogen gas. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/pdfs/76-143b.pdf

CDC guidance pertains to both spills (evacuate 130 feet) and fires ( evacuate one mile).

Fire responders are advised to have the following gear, according to CDC/NIOSH:  gloves, coveralls, respirators, and in some cases full body protection.

Anyone exposed must undergo immediate first aid and decontamination for eye and skin irritations, burns, and nose , throat and lung irritation. Medical attention must be immediately obtained.

HNN knows of at least one life threatening incident in past years at Special Metals/Huntington Alloys.

The National Library of Medicine describes hydrogen fluoride and hydrofluoric acid as  synonymous --- HF is a gas; hydrofluoric acid is an aqueous acid. They have the same CAS registry number.

Since the gas becomes the acid in aqueous systems and volatilization of the gas can occur from aqueous systems, it is often difficult to determine which is being considered.
Corrosive action on metals can result in the formation of hydrogen in containers and piping which leads to an explosion hazard when combined with ammonia, arsenic trioxide, calcium oxide,

Hydrogen Fluoride air emissions for Special Metals  in 2012 were 982 pounds (air stack) and 20 pounds of “fugitive” air emissions, according to the EPA.  Emissions have dropped from 2,500 pounds in 1989 to an 855 low in 2007.

Releases of over 100 pounds must be reported, according to the National Library of Medicine. Water discharges must also be reported under the Clean Water Act. http://www.inchem.org/documents/pims/chemical/hydfluor.htm

NOTE: Air violations are listed. Clean Water Act information indicates that materials were transferred from on-site to the HSB Waste Treatment Plant, however, the last year for the transfer of HF to the Waste Treatment Plant was 2010.  For further details, visit: http://echo.epa.gov/detailed_facility_report?fid=110000344547#pane3.  The EPA lists the site environmental contamination conditions under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)  as a "corrective action site"  with respect to the on-going clean up. Specifically, EPA has entered a  "?" for human exposure control and mitigation of contaminated ground water. http://oaspub.epa.gov/enviro/rcra_profile.rcrameta#gw_cont  HOWEVER, a separate EPA clean up document states --- just the opposite --- that both Human Exposure and Ground Water contamination are indeed under control at the facility. (But a facility wide remedy has not been selected and construction on a remedy had not yet stated.) See: http://epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/correctiveaction/pdfs/base08fc.pdf

The background of the site may be viewed at: http://www.epa.gov/reg3wcmd/ca/wv/webpages/wvd076826015.html

The site includes an RCRA violation from the summer 0f 2013, and RCRA violations of Significant Non-Compliance that date back to July-Sept. 2011. From the charts these appear related to tanks, emergency plan, generators , general facility, and a permit.

RCRA WVD076826015 RCR COMPLIANCE EVALUATION INSPECTION ON-SITE State 05/31/2013 Violations Or Compliance Issues Were Found
RCRA Generators - General -- -- JUL-11-2011 >>>>>> FEB-09-2012 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
RCRA Generators - Manifest -- -- JUL-11-2011 >>>>>> FEB-09-2012 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
RCRA LDR - General -- -- JUL-11-2011 >>>>>> FEB-09-2012 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
RCRA Permit Condition or Requirement -- -- JUL-11-2011 >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>>
RCRA Permits - General Information -- -- JUL-11-2011 >>>>>> FEB-09-2012 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
RCRA TSD - Contingency Plan and Emergency Procedures -- -- JUL-11-2011 JUL-15-2011 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
RCRA TSD - General Facility Standards -- -- JUL-11-2011 >>>>>> FEB-09-2012 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
RCRA TSD - General Facility Standards -- -- JUL-11-2011 >>>>>> FEB-09-2012 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
RCRA TSD - Tank System Standards -- -- JUL-11-2011 >>>>>> FEB-09-2012 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
RCRA TSD - Tank System Standards -- -- JUL-11-2011 >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>>
RCRA TSD - Tank System Standards -- -- JUL-11-2011 >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>> >>>>>>
RCRA Used Oil - Generators -- -- JUL-11-2011 JUL-12-2011 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --



For the Clean Water Act, the facility has not been in compliance for seven out of 12 quarters, per the EPA.

CWA WV0114618 -- -- 06/30/2013 7

The EPA has the Pea Ridge Public Service District as a major Clean Water Act Violator, specifically for copper and zinc.



Based on the 2009 New York Times article, "Toxic Waters: Clean Water Laws are Neglected at a Cost Suffering," the 2001 Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) estimated 2.5 million pounds of hydrogen fluoride were transferred off-site nationwide, including to publicly owned-treatment works (POTWs), by 991 reporting facilities presumably for disposal (TRI01 2003).

In 2001, 240,196 pounds of fluorine were transferred off-site by 9 reporting facilities. According to the TRI, in 2001, 77% of hydrogen fluoride that was recycled or treated was performed on-site (TRI01 2003). Of the hydrogen fluoride recycled in 2001, 23.8 million pounds were recycled on-site and 251,203 pounds were recycled off-site. Of the hydrogen fluoride that was treated,234 million pounds were treated on-site and 2 million pounds were treated off-site (TRI01 2003).

The Times article stated: "No information was found concerning how hydrogen fluoride is generally treated for disposal. Fluorine gas can be disposed of by conversion to perfluorocarbons or fluoride salts. Because of the long atmospheric lifetimes of perfluorocarbons, conversion to fluoride salts is preferable. Industrially, the waste stream is scrubbed with a caustic solution, KOH or NaOH, and for dilute streams, allowed to react with limestone (Shia 1994). Adequate contact and residence time is essential in the scrubber to ensure complete neutralization of the intermediate oxygendifluoride to prevent it from leaving the scrub tower."

A September 1, 2013 article in the Herald-Dispatch alleged that Special Metals had water quality violations dating back to 1999. The New York Times in a 2009 article stated that the Huntington Waste Treatment Plant was among locations nationwide with violations. http://projects.nytimes.com/toxic-waters/polluters/west-virginia.

The HD reported , "The Sanitary Board's industrial waste discharge permit includes pretreatment requirements that are mandated by the federal Clean Water Act. They require certain industrial discharges to reduce or eliminate harmful wastes before discharging into the Huntington sanitary system." Meetings have been held between HSB and Special Metals  since the September 1 publication of the article authored by Brian Chambers.

The Times series found 151 violations at the city's Waste Treatment Plant. http://projects.nytimes.com/toxic-waters/polluters/west-virginia

However, the plant has made significant progress toward reducing environmental issues, according to this EPA chart which shows 1987 (bottom) and 2012 (top) . For better magnification, the chart of reduction of environmental violations is also available for download via pdf as an attachment below.

UPDATED LINKS: Dangerous Hydrogen Fluoride Among Water Emissions Sent to Huntington Waste Treatment Plant According to EPA




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