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MAY 2007

Fire-plagued manufacturer settles with New Jersey DEP for hazardous waste violations

A New Jersey manufacturer of hair-care products has agreed to pay $93,250 to settle hazardous-waste violations stemming from a series of fires likely sparked by improperly stored chemicals, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson announced.

Before finalizing the settlement, the DEP required Hair Systems Inc. to improve waste-handling procedures at its facility in Englishtown Borough, Monmouth County, and to properly train employees to help prevent more fires in the future.

Hair Systems uses potassium persulfate and sodium persulfate in the manufacture of bleaches, dyes, perm kits and other reactive hair-care products.

The DEP’s environmental inspectors and members of the state Division of Criminal Justice’s Environmental Crimes Unit, acting on information from an Englishtown fire official and the Monmouth County Health Department, executed a search warrant at the facility in January 2006.

Environmental lawmen found various violations of hazardous-waste regulations, including chemicals being stored near incompatible materials and numerous containers of hazardous chemicals left open and unmarked.

The Division of Criminal Justice, after conducting an investigation with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, concluded there was no basis for criminal prosecution of Hair Systems Inc. However, as part of a settlement agreement with the Division of Criminal Justice, the company early this year agreed to take steps to reduce the number of fires at the facility. Those measures included hiring an environmental consultant and retaining an engineer to fully assess climate-control issues within the facility. Further, the company agreed to pay $25,000 to Englishtown Fire Company, which had responded repeatedly to fires at Hair Systems, for the purchase of new equipment.

DEP environmental inspectors had cited the facility for failing to: mark containers and tanks as hazardous waste, ensure employee familiarity with proper waste handling and emergency procedures, use storage containers lined with materials that do not react with hazardous waste, and properly close all stored hazardous-waste containers.

Violations also included the facility’s failure to inspect container storage areas and its failure to minimize the possibility of fire, explosion or other event that might release hazardous waste and threaten public health or the environment.

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