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Environmental Enforcement Roundup – Chinese Mothballs, Ohio Electric

Ohio Electric to Pay $50,000 Fine for Ammonia Spill

In a settlement with Ohio EPA, the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC) has agreed to pay $50,000 for last year’s spill of ammonia into Kyger Creek from its Gallia County facility, located in Addison Township.(PDF)

On July 25, 2009, OVEC determined that it was necessary to drain ammonia solution from its ammonia-on-demand tank to its south fly ash pond. This activity was not reported to Ohio EPA. The tank draining continued for two days until OVEC noticed several dead fish in the pond and stopped the draining process.

The company did not notify Ohio EPA about the high concentration of ammonia discharged from the pond to Kyger Creek or the subsequent fish kill. An anonymous caller notified Ohio EPA of dead fish in the creek on July 27, 2009. Ohio EPA and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) investigated. ODNR found 4,917 dead fish, including large catfish, in the 1.5 miles between the OVEC pond’s discharge point and the Ohio River. Ohio EPA sampled the creek and confirmed that ammonia concentrations downstream of the pond were lethal to aquatic species.

As part of the settlement with OVEC, the company agreed to implement an approved plan for eliminating similar ammonia solution discharges to waters of the state. OVEC also agreed to pay $50,000 in civil penalties, $10,000 of which will go to Ohio EPA’s Clean Diesel School Bus Program Fund. This fund helps retrofit school buses with pollution control equipment to reduce particulate emissions from their diesel engines and thereby protect the children who ride the buses. The remaining $40,000 will go to the administration of surface water programs. OVEC has already paid $2,085 to ODNR for the cost of the dead fish and ODNR’s investigation.

EPA Warns Against Use of Mothballs that Look Like Candy

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is warning the public about a potential threat from an illegal pesticide product uncovered during an inspection of a shipment at a warehouse in Kearny, NJ.

EPA discovered that a Brooklyn-based company had attempted to import mothballs from China that could be mistaken for candy and are not registered with EPA, as required by federal law. These mothballs are suspected of containing an active ingredient called para-dichlorobenzene, a toxic chemical. About 4800 brightly-decorated bags of the product, called Fuji Lavender Moth Tablets, were discovered. EPA is looking into whether the product has reached stores, and is asking the public to look out for the mothballs while the Agency continues its investigation.

“EPA wants to make sure that no one gets sick from these illegal imported toxic pesticides,” Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator said in a statement. “Importing pesticide products that are not registered with EPA is a serious violation. The registration process ensures that we know what pesticides are in the products, and that they have labels with directions for proper use. Mothballs sold in colorful packaging that resemble candy pose a particular risk to children”.

Inhaling para-dichlorobenzene can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory distress and other illnesses. Swallowing it can damage the nervous system and, in extreme cases, can cause coma or death. In this case, the product’s similarity to candy makes accidental poisonings a real threat.

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