The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 has cited U.S. Water Co. of Lexington, Mo., for Clean Air Act and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) violations.
U.S. Water is the owner and operator of the water treatment facility that provides drinking water for Lexington and for Public Water District 2 of Higginsville, Mo. EPA found Clean Air Act and EPCRA violations during inspections at the facility June 30, 2004 and Jan. 12, 2005.
Jim Gulliford, EPA Region 7 administrator in Kansas City, Kan., said, “We consider these types of violations to be very serious. EPA is committed to drinking water security and safe chemical handling practices, both of which are fundamental to protecting community members and emergency responders.”
EPA issued an administrative compliance order that requires the facility to comply with the chemical safety provisions of Section 112 of the Clean Air Act. These provisions require facilities that store or use hazardous substances to maintain a safe facility, identify hazards that could lead to accidental release, and institute measures to minimize the consequences of releases that do occur. The compliance order requires the facility to be inspected by a certified professional engineer. U.S. Water will be required to follow the engineer’s recommendations for improving the safety of the facility.
U.S. Water could be liable for penalties of up to $32,500 per day for each violation of Section 112 of the Clean Air Act, and up to $32,500 for each violation of EPCRA.
The EPCRA violations were failure to provide chemical inventory information to the local fire department, local emergency planning committee and state emergency response commission. This information is critical for emergency planning and response activities relating to the U.S. Water facility. The complaint requires the facility to come into compliance with regulations in addition to paying the proposed penalties.
EPCRA and Section 112 of the Clean Air Act are intended to inform citizens about chemicals in the community, prevent releases of hazardous chemicals, protect the community and emergency responders in an event of accidental releases, and improve emergency response to releases.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) accompanied EPA on the January 12, 2005, inspection of U.S. Water. Following the inspection, MDNR issued U.S. Water a Notice of Violation for violations of Missouri’s safe drinking water statutes and regulations. U.S. Water is working to address the violations included in the notice.