Chemical company pleads guilty to environmental violations

May 12, 2015

The U.S. Department of Justice announced recently that a Warwick, Rhode Island chemical company pleaded guilty to Clean Air Act violations.

Mann Distribution, LLC, of Warwick, also known as Mann Chemical, LLC, entered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court in Providence, addressing allegations that it had violated the Clean Air Act by failing to implement a Risk Management Plan to minimize the risk of release of hydrofluoric acid from the Warwick facility.

U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lisi fined Mann Chemical $200,000 and ordered the company to serve 3 years probation for failing to adhere to regulations outlined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

"EPA's Risk Management Program has a clear purpose — to prevent and prepare for releases of toxic and flammable substances that have the potential for catastrophic consequences. The sentence imposed by the court underscores the importance placed on protecting workers, emergency responders and communities," stated Tyler Amon, Special Agent in Charge of EPA's Criminal Program in Rhode Island.

EPA rules require all companies that store more than 1,000 lbs of hydrofluoric acid, or other extremely hazardous substances, to develop and implement a Risk Management Plan. The plan includes hazard assessment in case of an accidental release, prevention programs with safety precautions, employee training and maintenance, and an emergency response program to inform public and response agencies in case of an accident.

An EPA inspection in 2009 found that Mann Chemical stored 92 drums of hydrofluoric acid, at a 70 percent concentration, for a total of 46,000 pounds of the chemical. The company did not have a Risk Management Plan in place. Environmental consultants can aid in the development and implementation of Risk Management Plans, in compliance with federal environmental laws.