Company fined $2+ million for failing to tell workers about chemical risks
The issue: Hexavalent chromium exposure
One of the largest manufacturers of chromium chemicals in the world has been ordered to pay a $2,571,800 fine for failing to disclose information about the health risks of hexavalent chromium exposure to its workers.
The administration decision issued last week against Elementis Chromium, Inc. was based on a requirement of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Hexavalent chromium is a known carcinogen.
The EPA’s Cynthia Giles said the judgement reinforces the importance of companies providing information about the risks their chemicals pose.
TSCA requires chemical manufacturers, processors, or distributors that obtain information demonstrating that a substance or mixture presents a substantial risk of injury to human health or the environment immediately inform the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This information allows EPA to understand and limit, when necessary, potential hazards associated with the manufacturing, use, and disposal of chemical substances.
In September 2010, the EPA filed a complaint against Elementis with the Office of Administrative Law Judges, alleging TSCA violations for failing to report the results of an industry-commissioned study that documented significant occupational impacts to workers in modern chemical plants.
According to the agency, the study filled a gap in scientific literature regarding the relationship between hexavalent chromium exposure and respiratory cancer in modern chromium production facilities. Chief Administrative Law Judge Susan Biro held an administrative hearing in December 2011, where both sides presented expert witnesses and additional evidence. On November 12, 2013, Judge Biro issued a decision and assessed a penalty, concluding that Elementis had violated TSCA.
Elementis, which is based in East Windsor, N.J., is a global specialty chemical company with operations worldwide. Elementis has been manufacturing and distributing chromium-based chemical substances and mixtures for more than 35 years and has two main manufacturing plants in Castle Hayne, N.C., and Corpus Christi, Texas.