NOVEMBER 2009

Connecticut company fined for toxic waste violations

A Bridgeport, Connecticut company that treats, stores and disposes of toxic waste has paid $26,000 to settle claims by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it violated federal regulations covering the storage and handling of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Bridgeport United Recycling was charged with misidentifying 5,000 gallons of waste containing PCBs that it picked up in April 2007 from the former site of the Bridgeport Brass Company in Bridgeport at the request of Connecticut Transfer Company.

EPA claimed that Bridgeport United violated the Toxic Substance Control Act and PCB regulations by failing to comply with all of the requirements for PCB waste manifests when it shipped the waste for recycling. Specifically, the company failed to: identify the waste material as PCB waste; list the weight of the waste in kilograms; and indicate the earliest date of removal from service for disposal.

According to EPA, a Bridgeport United vacuum truck in April picked up 883 gallons of waste material from two 55-gallon drums and a transformer. Two weeks earlier, the company had a sample of the waste tested and did not detect the presence of PCBs. After leaving the site, the truck made pickups at three other companies before returning to its recycling facility with 3,317 gallons of waste. The mixed waste from the truck was again analyzed and again PCBs were not detected.

The company “topped off” this load with waste from other sources for a total volume of 5,000 gallons of waste and on April 2 shipped the mix to Norlite, a hazardous waste treatment and recovery facility in Cohoes, New York, to use as fuel. Norlite, which is not permitted to reuse oil containing PCBs, analyzed the material and found a PCB concentration of 2,006 parts per million. The company notified Bridgeport United of its findings and sent the waste back.

Bridgeport United, which is owned by United Oil Recovery, eventually determined that the waste indeed was highly contaminated with PCBs and shipped it for disposal to Clean Harbors Deer Park, an approved PCB disposal facility in Texas.

In February 2008, Bridgeport United and United Oil agreed to pay a combined $325,000 in civil penalties for alleged violations of RCRA in settlement of a suit filed in 2003 by the Department of Justice and EPA. As part of the settlement, Bridgeport United also agreed to automate and upgrade the device that controls organic air emissions at its facility, including installation of high-level alarms, automatic switching of the carbon beds, and increasing the operational rate of the blower.