With the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement that Cosmoflex, Inc. in Hannibal, Mo., would pay an $80,000 civil penalty because it violated environmental regulations, comes the reminder that tracking the use of hazardous materials is a challenging task.
According to the EPA, the company was lax in reporting “quantities of toxic chemicals that were manufactured, processed or otherwise used at the facility during 2007, 2008 and 2009.” Some of the specific issues discovered during an inspection included that the company:
- Failed to conduct Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reporting for antimony, barium and zinc compounds for calendar years 2007, 2008 and 2009.
- Was late in filing inventory reports for dioctylphthalate and lead compounds for calendar years 2007, 2008 and 2009.
- Failed to maintain documentation for lead compounds during calendar years 2007, 2008 and 2009.
- Had a data quality error in its reporting of lead compounds for calendar year 2007.
Even though many of the violations are about record keeping, the implications can be serious because emergency planners and responders use the information for planning purposes. Residents in the nearby area are also considered to have a right to know what hazardous materials are routinely released or accidentally spilled near them. Of course, sloppy record keeping, or even ignoring reporting requirements, causes some to question just how reliable any of the records might be. A report about the Toxics Release Inventory maintained at the EPA raised questions about the accuracy of the information companies are reporting.