Two spills of hazardous wastes in two days last December at Emerald Services, Inc.’s Tacoma facility led to a $99,000 penalty issued by the Washington Department of Ecology.
The incidents, on Dec. 7 and 8, 2014, involved an overflow of a tank containing dangerous waste and a spill of 100 gallons of a dangerous waste solvent. The penalty is for both those incidents, as well as training and emergency coordination violations found during the ensuing investigation.
There is a pattern of spills and incidents at Emerald’s Tacoma facility, which handles dangerous waste solvents, antifreeze and re-refines used oil. Since February 2014, Ecology has investigated 19 separate incidents reported by the company, and last issued Emerald a $68,000 penalty in April 2015, which is currently under appeal.
“Recurring spills and safety violations at Emerald are unacceptable and pose a threat to workers, neighboring businesses, and Commencement Bay,” said Darin Rice, program manager for Ecology’s Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction program. “As a facility trusted to safely manage hazardous waste for hundreds of Washington companies, it’s critical that they follow the safety and environmental protection conditions in their permit.”
In investigating the December 2014 spills, Ecology investigators found these spills were a result of employee error, highlighting the need for following proper training, operational and safety procedures. The wastes spilled were flammable and toxic, posing a significant risk to human health and the environment.
“Emerald Services is committed to environmental compliance as well as employee safety, and we have and will continue to work closely with our employees to ensure all areas of concern are fully addressed,” said Sheila Smith, Director of Environmental Affairs for Emerald. “We look forward to working with Ecology to resolve the penalty and also move forward with continued improvements in our operations.”