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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
8/26/02
02/75

Contact: Amy Cradic
(609) 984-1795

NJ DEP CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE CLOSING OF CHEMICAL COMPANY IN NEWARK

(02/75) TRENTON - New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced that a complaint was filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey calling for an immediate shut down of operations at Fairmount Chemical Company, Inc. located in the city of Newark, Essex County. In addition to failing to obtain required permits, Fairmount is violating clean air regulations by emitting unknown amounts of hydrazine, a hazardous air pollutant.

A recently released federal air toxics assessment that is based on emission inventories revealed that long-term exposure to hydrazine in the city of Newark is estimated to be 10 to 50 times above the level generally accepted as a significant cancer risk. Fairmount is the only facility in Essex County known to be using hydrazine as part of its facility operations. Long-term exposure to hydrazine - a carcinogen - may cause damage to the liver, kidney, and reproductive organs.

"We are asking the court to take immediate precautionary action to protect Newark residents," said Commissioner Campbell. "The department's repeated requests for information from Fairmount have gone unanswered. Until we determine that there is no health threat resulting from its operations, the facility must remain shut down."

On May 31, 2002, the National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) program released study results that alerted the DEP to a potentially high concentration of hydrazine in Newark.

As the only facility in Essex County known to be using hydrazine as part of its facility operations, Fairmount Chemical Company was issued a DEP directive on June 14, 2002 to provide information on its emissions and use of hydrazine and other hazard air pollutants (HAP). Fairmount did not comply with the request. This information is essential to the department's determination of what type and quantity of emissions is taking place at the Fairmount facility and its impact on public health. On August 12, 2002, the department directed Fairmount to cease operations until the information was submitted.

On August 16, 2002, the DEP inspected the facility and determined that Fairmount was actively receiving hydrazine by tanker truck. During a follow-up inspection on August 20, 2002, DEP inspectors witnessed Fairmount Chemical operating a non-permitted hydrazine blending operation.

In addition, Fairmount installed and in some cases operated storage tanks, blend tanks and dryers that use hydrazine and other hazardous air pollutants without obtaining air pollution control preconstruction permits and certificates to operate. As a result of the DEP's air pollution permitting process, Fairmont may require air pollution control technology and/or need to take pollution prevention measures.

"We can not afford to let industries that handle toxic chemicals in close proximity to our communities languish in their compliance responsibilities," added Campbell. "In cases like this that can potentially impact public health, we don't have the luxury of time. The department must be proactive in its enforcement efforts to ensure public safety."

In addition to shutting down the facility and requiring Fairmount to submit the requested information on its emissions, the DEP and the Office of the Attorney General seek a permanent injunction to stop facility operations until pre-construction permits and operating certificates are obtained. The department is also seeking the maximum statutory penalties of $10,000 for each day that Fairmount was in non-compliance.

NATA is a program within U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that estimates the potential health risk of 32 of 33 hazardous air pollutants that the EPA has identified as posing the highest threat to public health in the greatest number of urban areas. The study is based on calculations of emissions from sources including cars, trucks, factories and waste incinerators, as well as a computer modeling effort to estimate the resulting concentrations of air toxics in the air around us.

Fairmount is a manufacturer of specialty organic chemicals, including plastic additives and photographic chemicals. Its Newark facility has a hydrazine blending operation that is a significant source of uncontrolled hydrazine emissions.

 

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