Fines for Special Metals proposed
HUNTINGTON -- The Huntington Sanitary Board is proposing to fine one of the city's largest industrial facilities $254,000 for numerous alleged violations of its sewer use ordinance and industrial waste discharge permit that date as far back as 1999.
Officials with Huntington Alloys Corp. are scheduled to meet with Sanitary Board staff and Mayor Steve Williams, who is chairman of the Sanitary Board's Board of Directors, sometime this week to discuss the alleged violations in detail.
Sanitary Board officials sent a draft consent order dated Aug. 15 to Huntington Alloys, which is owned by Special Metals Corp., and has the same address as Special Metals' 130-acre plant in Altizer, outlining the alleged violations.
"Some of the violations which we allege endanger or have endangered water quality, human health and/or the proper functioning of the Board's facilities," according to a letter that was sent to Keith Dabbs, vice president and general manager of Special Metals, along with the draft consent order. "Federal, state and local law requires that the Board address those violations."
If the two sides cannot reach an agreement, the Board will proceed with enforcement through civil action against Huntington Alloys for penalties, costs and injunctive relief, according to the letter.
The Sanitary Board's Board of Directors consists of Williams, Alex Vence and Garry Black. All three members said they only became aware of the alleged violations after the Sanitary Board sent the draft consent order to Huntington Alloys. Board members met with Charlene DeBord, the Sanitary Board's industrial pretreatment coordinator, in executive session during their meeting last Tuesday, but Williams, Black and Vence said they still have several unanswered questions.
"I'm still trying to get my arms fully around this issue," Williams said. "I have confirmed that this was only recently brought to the board's attention for the first time. This is not an issue that was brought to the board before I became chairman seven months ago."
Added Vence, who has served two years on the board: "Obviously, more information needs to come to light as this develops, but two things were extremely shocking. The violations go as far back as 1999. We don't know why this is all happening now. It's also somewhat troubling that this is the first time it has been brought to the board. It's a pretty serious issue, and I think we should have been made aware of it a long time ago because it appears to be an ongoing problem."
DeBord said Friday she was not comfortable discussing specifics of the case before meeting with the company. Employees at Special Metals' Huntington facility referred calls to a spokesman for Precision Castparts Corp., which owns Special Metals. Calls and emails were not returned.
Special Metals in Huntington manufactures high-performance nickel alloys for the aerospace, gas well and other industries. More than 500 hourly employees work at the facility. It is the principal U.S. production site for Precision Castparts and is supported by other facilities at Burnaugh, Ky., and Elkhart, Ind.
The Sanitary Board's industrial waste discharge permit includes pretreatment requirements that are mandated by the federal Clean Water Act. They require certain industrial discharges to reduce or eliminate harmful wastes before discharging into the Huntington sanitary system.
The draft consent order includes 14 individual fines totaling $54,000 for alleged "pH excursions," or incidents that caused water samples to be outside of their acceptable pH levels. The alleged incidents include abnormal levels discovered during routine sampling and four acid spills between 1999 and 2012.
The Sanitary Board is proposing an additional $200,000 in fines because it says the company failed to address nine unspecified violations between 2003 and February of this year and also because of its continued failure to address problems in a facility described as the "pickle house/cold draw."
The draft consent order also lists 13 violations between July 2002 and June of this year for which fines have already been assessed and paid by the company. The draft order does not include the amount of the fines. The violations included three acid spills and reported concentrations in test samples that exceeded the pollutant limits for nickel, chromium and mercury.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency's Enforcement and Compliance History Online database, Huntington Alloys has paid two fines to the state Department of Environmental Protection totaling $365,850 during the past five years. One fine totaled $305,000 and was related to a violation of the Clean Air Act, while the other $60,850 fine was the result of a settlement agreement with DEP and linked to a violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
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