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South Portland Manufacturer Pays Penalty

A company in South Portland created media for the growing plants and will pay a penalty of $137,294 penalty to settle charges by the US Environmental Protection Agency that it violated the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention rules.

The Environmental Protection Agency declared that Quick Plug N.A. failed to follow federal regulations in its use of toluene diisocyanate, an extremely hazardous substance known as TDI that is used in making a soil-like media for growing seeds. They also added that the South Portland company failed to prepare and submit a Risk Management Plan due to its use of the chemical. Risk Management Plan helps to manage their extremely hazardous chemicals properly to ensure public safety.

The environmental protection agency added that they are complexing with risk management plan regulations that help companies prevent accidental releases of extremely hazardous substances. Deborah Szaro  New England Acting Regional Administrator said that these requirements are created to help protect local communities and the emergency responders who may be called on if there is an accident at the facility.

Quick Plug, a company in the Netherlands, made trays of growth media for seedlings and small plants in South Portland until it stopped operating in Maine in December 2020. During the inspection of the facility, the inspectors documented several issues, including improper handling and storage of TDI. TDI is a regulated extremely hazardous substance under the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention regulations. TDI, a possible carcinogen, can cause respiratory irritation or breathing difficulties if it is inhaled. Those at risk can develop chronic asthma with even minimal exposure.

The environmental agency declared that from 2016 to 2018, this facility used more than the threshold quantity of 10,000 pounds in its process and was required to submit a risk management plan to EPA, including registration for its process. Netherlands based companies did not file a risk management plan during this time. The company was operating with less than 10,000 pounds of TDI, it was subject to the Clean Air Act’s General Duty Clause, which has more general accident prevention and mitigation requirements.

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