EPA NEWS: Tacoma Facility Pays $650,000 For Hot Asphalt Spill Near Commencement Bay

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

January 6, 2022

SEATTLE (January 6, 2022) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that Gardner-Gibson, Inc. has paid a $650,000 penalty to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act related to the release of 60,000 gallons of hot, liquid asphalt from its Gardner-Fields, Inc. facility in Tacoma.

On February 8, 2015, employees at the asphalt shingles and coating materials facility were transferring hot asphalt from rail cars to a storage tank when a connector separated from the tank. Through an open valve, hot asphalt escaped from the secondary containment of the facility and flowed into Commencement Bay’s Blair Waterway.

The asphalt spill stopped about 800 feet from Blair Waterway. The asphalt contaminated four ducks and they were captured, cleaned and released.

EPA cited the company for the release of petroleum products and for significant violations of the Clean Water Act’s Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures requirements discovered during follow-up inspections at the facility.

SPCC requirements are intended to prevent discharges of oil from non-transportation-related onshore facilities and to facilitate responses if discharges occur. The requirements apply to all facilities where a potential spill could reach waters of the United States and that maintain above-ground oil storage capacity of greater than 1,320 gallons of oil or total below-ground storage capacity of greater than 42,000 gallons of oil. When EPA inspected the facility, total storage capacity was 4,234,275 gallons.

Some of the most significant SPCC violations the agency found were

failure to maintain appropriate secondary containment in the event of a spill;
failure to determine and carry out appropriate inspections of various aboveground storage tanks;
failure to identify appropriate qualifications for personnel performing tank integrity testing; and
failure to prepare and submit a Facility Response Plan to EPA after the spill.

“This facility failed to comply with spill prevention and containment requirements and ended up with a mess — and a stiff penalty,” said Ed Kowalski, director of EPA Region 10’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. They and the environment avoided a bullet. This facility had the ability to store more than 4 million gallons petroleum products.

“Compliance with the spill response requirements of the Clean Water Act is critical to the environment, and to the facilities required to obey them.”

The $650,000 penalty was deposited into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, a fund used by federal agencies to respond to discharges of oil and hazardous substances.

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