Yuma Desalting Plant pays fine for EPA violation
Nine months after an inspection by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found incomplete records about the response plan to accidental chemical releases at the Yuma Desalting Plant, the fine has been paid.
On Thursday, the EPA announced that the Bureau of Reclamation paid its reduced fine of $7,500 for failing to maintain a chemical risk management plan for chlorine at the Yuma Desalting Plant, 7301 Calle Agua Salada.
The violations for "minor deficiencies" have already been corrected, said Jack Simes, the bureau.s Yuma area external coordination group manager.
"As part of the compliance, records indicate that the training is being conducted," Simes said. "During the inspection not all the records were current at that time."
Under EPA.s regulations, all facilities using hazardous substances above a certain quantity must develop a chemical risk management plan.
For the chemical chlorine, if the facility has more than 2,500 pounds of it, it must have the proper documents to show its risk management plan.
"When you exceed that threshold you must have a chemical risk plan," Simes said. "That.s what draws the need for this plan."
The desalting plant had 4,000 pounds of chlorine on the site during its inspection in March, but it did not have the records showing that employees were properly trained to handle any accidental chemical releases.
Employees know how to respond, Simes said.
'The people had the training," he said. "We did not have all of the components (written on the plan.)'
The plan must include an assessment of the potential effects of an accidental release, history of accidents over the past five years and employee training. It must also have an emergency response program that outlines procedures for informing the public and response agencies, such as the police and fire departments, in the event of an accident, according to the EPA.
Since the plant acted quickly to fix the violation, the EPA reduced its penalty.
The maximum fee is $27,000 per day per violation, said EPA spokeswoman Laura Gentile.
The desalting plant, which has no other recent EPA violations, was built to collect and treat drainage water from farms east of Yuma. However, it has not been operated because of high cost. At the same facility there is a research and development center that continues to work on the desalting process.
Chlorine is used to kill bacteria and purify water.
Gentile said exposure to low concentrations of chlorine can cause intense coughing and breathing problems. Long-term exposure to chlorine can lead to chronic bronchitis.