A company that processes, stores and ships chemicals for water treatment and industrial processes is facing a $41,000 fine for issues at its facility near the confluence of the Merrimack and Souhegan rivers in New Hampshire, including waiting 10 hours to report a June 2010 release “from a ruptured storage tank unprotected by secondary containment,” federal officials said.
JCI Jones Chemicals, which has operated along the rail line in Merrimack since 1962, was one of five firms in New England “that store or use extremely hazardous chemicals” which have made “settlements with (the Environmental Protection Agency) EPA for violating federal regulations meant to prevent chemical accidents from occurring.”
All the companies, including JCI Jones, have cooperated with the agency and are “taking action to improve the safety of their operations,” the EPA said.
JCI Jones Branch Manager Kevin Ballantine referred comment to the corporate headquarters in Sarasota, FL. The firm, which has facilities around the country, has estimated annual sales of $68 million, the EPA said.
EPA said JCI Jones failed to “adequately evaluate risks associated with storing and handling chlorine and sulfur dioxide in proximity to incompatible chemicals, such as sodium hypochlorite, and on-site traffic.” The complaint said a variety of cylinders and tanks remained unsecured, “poorly secured,” or closer to rail lines than regulations specify.
In addition, EPA said JCI violated Superfund reporting requirements “when it failed to immediately notify the National Response Center of an accidental release of sodium hypochlorite from a ruptured storage tank unprotected by secondary containment.” Sodium hypochlorite is a type of bleach.
The complaint said around midnight on the morning of June 20, 2010, JCI Jones workers discovered a “large, fan-shaped spray” of material coming from a crack in a 12,000-gallon above-ground storage tank. About 4,000 gallons of 12.5 percent sodium hypochlorite solution leaked and they transferred it to another tank, according to the complaint.
The National Response Center did not receive notification of the spill until about 10 a.m., where it should have received word immediately, according to the EPA complaint.
Inspection later that day found “that the spilled solution had flowed off the raised concrete pad … and into a storm drain and culvert connected to a retention pond” because of lack of a retention facility.
The JCI Jones facility sits on 6½ acres at the end of Railroad Avenue, a short spur road running east from Route 3, Daniel Webster Highway, just south of the Souhegan River. Railroad Avenue connects to the Pan Am railroad line that runs along the Merrimack River, making it convenient for firms that ship product by rail.
The company produces and repackages productions including chlorine, caustic soda, sodium bisulfite, anhydrous ammonia and “a full line of chemicals for industrial, water, and wastewater.”