May 2008

EPA halts illegal chemical waste handling in Missouri

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 is stopping the illegal handling of hazardous wastes at a St. Joseph, Missouri chemical warehouse and storage facility, citing serious, long-term neglect of the environment.

The EPA’s administrative order issued against Lake Road Warehouse Co., 1400 Lower Lake Road, requires the business to immediately cease all solid and hazardous waste handling activity at its location, and complete an inventory of all chemical materials stored there. The business must develop a longer-term comprehensive plan to clean up any releases of hazardous wastes on its property and investigate whether those wastes have migrated beyond its facility boundary.

Lake Road Warehouse has served as a clearing house and commodity storage facility for bulk chemicals, including wastewater treatment chemicals, industrial cleaners and laboratory chemicals purchased in large amounts and then re-sold in smaller quantities to its customers. The business opened in the 1940s.

During a recent inspection, EPA Region 7 personnel found 69 different waste chemicals in corroded, torn or leaking containers, many with unreadable labels or no labeling at all. Inspectors also discovered multiple instances of chemicals or wastes being improperly stored together, such as strong acids near strong bases, or strong oxidizers next to combustibles. Mixtures of these so-called “incompatible wastes” can result in fire, explosion or the generation of toxic gases.

Besides putting an immediate halt to further illegal waste handling at the location, the order also requires Lake Road Warehouse or its contractor to:

  • Refrain from removing any materials from the facility without EPA approval.
  • Post warning signs on its property and restrict access to areas where releases of hazardous material have occurred.
  • Segregate all incompatible wastes and materials, and safely contain all hazardous materials.
  • Clean up its buildings and any releases of hazardous materials that have occurred on the site.
  • Remove all hazardous wastes and ship them to an appropriate waste disposal facility.