WV-based AL Solutions to implement safeguards after explosion - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

WV-based AL Solutions to implement safeguards after explosion

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Courtesy: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Courtesy: U.S. Chemical Safety Board

The U.S. EPA announced Dec. 19 the metal recycler AL Solutions will implement extensive, company-wide safeguards to prevent future accidental releases of hazardous chemicals from its facilities.

The agreement resolves the alleged Clean Air Act violations that stemmed from an explosion at the company's New Cumberland facility that killed three people.

AL Solutions recycles titanium and zirconium raw materials for use as alloying additives by aluminum producers.

Three employees who had been handling zirconium powder at the company's former plant in New Cumberland died in December 2010 after an explosion that may have been caused by an accidental release of the chemical.

Debris from the explosion destroyed the production area of the facility, and was scattered into area yards.

EPA Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin said EPA and OSHA worked together after the explosion to coordinate an investigation and to share information.

"Our combined efforts have resulted in settlements that provide a comprehensive framework for the company to build cutting-edge safeguards into its processes in order to protect people and the environment," Garvin said.

The EPA's complaint alleged that AL Solutions failed to conduct adequate hazard analyses and failed to design and maintain the facilities to take account of the hazardous substances there. The State of West Virginia also is expected to file a separate complaint soon alleging the company violated various provisions related to the unlawful storage of waste at the New Cumberland facility.

The EPA's proposed consent decree filed today in federal district court in the Northern District of West Virginia is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval.

The EPA estimates that the company will spend approximately $7.8 million to implement extensive measures to ensure compliance with environmental requirements, assess the potential hazards associated with existing and future operations and take measures to prevent accidental releases and minimize the consequences of releases that may occur.

Among the other requirements, AL Solutions must use advanced monitoring technology, including hydrogen monitoring and infrared cameras, to assess hazardous chemical storage areas to prevent fires and explosions.

The company also must process or dispose of approximately 10,000 drums of titanium and zirconium, or 2.4 million pounds, being stored at facilities in New Cumberland and Weirton by December 2014 to reduce the risk of fire and explosion.

The company also will pay a $100,000 civil penalty to resolve the alleged Clean Air Act violations documented during EPA inspections of the New Cumberland and Washington, Mo. Facilities after the explosion.

AL Solutions also recently agreed to pay the U.S. Department of Labor a total of $97,000 to resolve alleged violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The company opened a new, automated facility in nearby Burgettstown, Pa., which includes modern technology to safeguard employees and reduce exposure to hazardous metallic dust.