Oregon Metallurgical of Albany, Oregon and TDY Industries of Millersburg, Oregon have agreed to pay a combined total of $825,000 in civil penalties to resolve alleged violations related to improper storage, transportation, and disposal of anhydrous magnesium chloride, a reactive hazardous waste that can pose serious fire and explosion threats.
In addition to the penalty, the companies must improve hazardous waste management practices and upgrade recordkeeping on the hazardous wastes generated at each facility to ensure proper management and avoid potential accidents and injuries. The government complaint alleges that both companies improperly stored, transported and disposed of anhydrous magnesium chloride waste over a period of several years, in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) which governs the storage, disposal, and transportation of hazardous waste. EPA estimates that the companies illegally shipped approximately 160,000,000 pounds of this hazardous waste to Oregon landfills that were not equipped or permitted to dispose of untreated reactive wastes.
The facilities produce and process titanium and zirconium, which generates large quantities of anhydrous magnesium chloride as a byproduct. Anhydrous magnesium chloride is a reactive hazardous waste regulated under RCRA. Anhydrous magnesium chloride can react violently when it comes into contact with water, producing large amounts of heat as well as hydrogen and hydrogen sulfide gas in potentially toxic and flammable quantities.
Mining and mineral processing facilities such as these two facilities generate more toxic and hazardous waste than any other industrial sector. If not properly managed, these wastes pose a high risk to human health and the environment. EPA’s enforcement program will continue to focus on reducing risks associated with hazardous waste operations at mineral processing facilities.
Oregon Metallurgical and TDY Industries are wholly owned subsidiaries of Allegheny Technologies Inc., headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa.
The proposed consent decree filed on Friday, December 13, 2013 in Federal District Court for the District of Oregon is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.