U. S. SUGAR PAYS FINE
U. S. SUGAR PAYS FINE WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Feb. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- U. S. Sugar
Corporation today was fined $3.75 million for eight violations of the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which regulates the transportation and disposal of hazardous wastes. President Nelson Fairbanks, who represented U. S. Sugar in federal district court said, no harm has been found to the environment as a result of the violations which took place at the company's Bryant Sugar Mill in Palm Beach County.
Judge James Paine imposed the fine, the largest ever under the law. The company entered a guilty plea in December following several months of discussions with the U.S. Attorney's office in Miami. The fine was recommended in the plea agreement. Fairbanks told the court, "I am more humiliated than I can say that our company committed violations like these." He added, "Our policy was, and is, complete compliance with the law and beyond that to act in an environmentally responsible fashion. Breaking the law for any reason is a flat out violation of corporate policy." Outside the courthouse, Fairbanks announced that the company's environmental vice president will inform the media of future purchases of RCRA regulated materials at its mills and agricultural equipment shops. Noting that many purchases are already public record, he said the environmental vice president will make the records accessible. "If we had let the media look over our shoulders five years ago," Fairbanks said, "the slip-ups and oversights that led to today's sentence might have been caught and fixed earlier." Fairbanks also said that the company began a crash testing program in December "to make double and triple sure" the violations produced no harm to the environment. The testing program is being carried out by Blasland, Bouke & Lee, a national environmental engineering firm. The firm was instructed to look wherever it was most likely to find environmental harm and has found none. "I've told them to keep looking," Fairbanks said, adding that test results will be turned over to the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation and the Environmental Protection Agency. Last week the company announced that it has begun an environmental restructuring to create internal safeguards against future environmental violations. It is close to hiring the environmental vice president, a new senior level post. A search firm has been engaged to fill a new position of environmental audit manager. Teams have been formed to deal with environmental emergencies, environmental compliance officers have been appointed in each department, employees have begun to receive more extensive environmental training and an environmental hot line has been opened to enable employees to make anonymous reports of violations. "We are determined to become a standard of environmental responsibility," said Fairbanks. Following is a fact sheet regarding U. S. Sugar's plea. U. S. Sugar has headquarters in Clewiston, Fla. It grows sugar, vegetables and citrus. U. S. SUGAR ENVIRONMENTAL CASE FACT SHEET Here are some facts to put the items in the plea in perspective. I. Hazardous Wastes: (a) According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Hazardous Waste Engineering Research Laboratory Standard Handbook of Hazardous Waste Treatment and Disposal, .35 percent to .40 percent of the residential waste that is discarded to landfills qualifies as household hazardous waste. (b) Each day, households in Palm Beach County send over 20,000 pounds of hazardous waste to the Palm Beach County landfills. (c) Examples of household hazardous waste include: 1. oven cleaners; 2. finger nail polish; 3. wood polish; 4. lawn and garden chemicals; 5. wine bottles (the lead wrappers); 6. paints; 7. adhesives; and 8. spot remover. (d) the Palm Beach County landfills legally and routinely received hazardous waste from small quantity industrial generators. II. Lead and Landfills: (a) Only one item in the plea involves sending hazardous waste to a landfill (Lead subacetate mixed with mud and cane juice in filter papers). -- The Company's mill laboratories used lead subacetate in the process of filtering mud and other impurities out of cane juice and other process samples for purposes of testing the sucrose content of samples. (b) Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority has reported that regularly conducted county testing at the landfills to which the Bryant laboratory sent its waste reveals that no lead is being released into the environment. (c) Certain key provisions of the law governing the disposal of hazardous waste changed in 1986. 1. Before September 1986, a generator could legally send up to 2,200 pounds of hazardous waste per month to a landfill that does not have a permit to receive hazardous waste, without any reporting requirements. 2. After September 1986, the legal limit dropped to 220 pounds a month. 3. The law requires adding the weight of mud, filter paper and cane juice to the weight of the lead in determining the total quantity of hazardous waste disposed of. (With 220 pounds a month being the legal limit for disposing without a permit.) (d) The Company's Bryant laboratory sent a yearly average of about 300 pounds of lead to the landfills, less than a pound of lead a day (or less than two pounds per day during the five month harvest season). 1. The following illustrates how small a quantity of lead was disposed in the landfills by the company. Florida has a legal standard for the maximum lead content in compost that may be applied annually to land. It is 44.5 pounds per acre. The company's shipments to the Palm Beach County landfill came to less than four pounds of lead per acre of landfill. Therefore, the Company was depositing in the landfill less than ten percent of the lead that could have been contained in compost applied to a lawn in Palm Beach. 2. Expressed another way, the state of Florida recognizes that even if 10 times the quantity of lead deposited in the landfill was deposited every year, the material in the landfill would be harmless enough, from the standpoint of lead contamination, to apply to a lawn in Palm Beach as compost.
III. Solvents: Two solvents were involved in the plea. Brulin and Darcy (chemically equivalent) and Zep Dyna Sol.
(a) BRULIN AND DARCY: Spent Brulin and Darcy were first regulated under RCRA in January 1986. 1. These solvents are nearly identical blends of several substances. 2. Fifty percent to 70 percent of the solvent consists of mineral spirits. The balance is composed of methylene chloride (commonly found in paint stripper) and tetrachloro- ethylene (principally used by dry cleaning establishments, as a spot remover, and as a degreaser for a variety of industrial applications). 3. The methylene chloride component evaporates very rapidly. 4. The other components also evaporate quickly. 5. Both Brulin and Darcy were used principally in the summer- time, when temperatures in the mills were in the 90 degree range, further increasing the evaporation rate. 6. Most of the Brulin and Darcy used at U.S. Sugar was applied with a compressed air spray gun, again enhancing evaporation. 7. Most of the solvent evaporated during use. This evaporation does not constitute disposal. 8. Tests conducted by Blasland, Bouke & Lee, a national environmental engineering firm, have found that more than 90 percent of the solvents evaporated during use -- only small amounts remained for improper disposal. 9. The material that was disposed of consisted primarily of oil and grease that dripped from the dirty equipment. (b) ZEP (MINERAL SPIRITS) 1. Zep is 80 percent or more mineral spirits. Mineral spirits (a refined petroleum product) is commonly found in the household as well as commercial products, such as paint thinner. 2. In its pure commercial form, Zep is ignitable at less than 140 degrees Fahrenheit, however; as a result of use, especially under conditions promoting evaporation, the temperature at which the material will ignite will increase thus diminishing the ignitability characteristic. Spent Zep Dyna Sol is only considered hazardous if it is ignitable at under 140 degrees Fahrenheit, unlike other wastes that may be hazardous because they are toxic, corrosive or reactive. 3. The classification of spent Zep as a hazardous waste established handling and disposal standards. These standards also serve to warn workers who might be handling it that they should exercise precautions appropriate to an ignitable substance. For example, they shouldn't smoke or put it near an open flame, unless they intend it to burn. 4. The spent Zep used by the company was mixed with used motor oil (which is not highly flammable and the mixture was disposed of by burning for energy recovery, an appropriate disposal method. Once burned, the Zep is gone. -0- 2/3/92 /CONTACT: Robert Buker or Sylvia Walters of U. S. Sugar Corporation, 813-983-8121/ CO: U. S. Sugar Corporation ST: Florida IN: SU:
AW-JJ-SS -- FL013 -- 6286 02/03/92 15:21 EST
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|Date:||Feb 3, 1992|
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