Fluoride Action Network

Presstek reaches agreement to compensate for 2006 chemical spill in South Hadley

Source: The Republican Newsroom | August 28th, 2008 | From staff reports
Industry type: Chemical Industry

SOUTH HADLEY – Presstek has agreed to pay $31,975 and perform a supplemental environmental project to resolve violations related to a chemical spill at one of the company’s South Hadley facilities, which is now closed.

On Oct. 30, 2006, 751 pounds of hydrofluoric acid, a hazardous chemical, were released to the environment through a ventilation fan in the Presstek facility, according to a statement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday.

The company, which is based in Hudson, N.H., manufactures digital plates for the printing industry.

The release caused the evacuation of approximately 90 residents living within a one-mile radius of the facility and required that South Hadley public schools be closed as a precautionary measure the following day.

EPA’s Emergency Response office responded to the release, assisted with acid gas air monitoring support, and provided technical expertise to state and local emergency response teams.

EPA also developed an assessment strategy for school buses parked near the facility, testing and clearing all vehicles.

Following the release, EPA alleged that Presstek failed to design and maintain a safe facility, in violation of the Federal Clean Air Act. EPA alleged that insufficient safety controls and operator error were the likely causes of the chemical release.

EPA also said Presstek failed to notify the National Response Center of the release, in violation of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.

Presstek will perform a supplemental environmental project, which is an environmentally beneficial project that the company voluntarily agreed to undertake in exchange for mitigation of the penalty.

Presstek’s project involves developing a green chemistry curriculum for implementation in Massachusetts schools.

Quincy Public High School will pilot the curriculum during the 2008-2009 school year. The curriculum will then be presented at a workshop open to Massachusetts educators during the summer of 2009. The project is worth $70,000.