A judge has approved a settlement that resolves federal workplace and environmental civil charges at a plant in Hancock County, W. Va. An explosion at the plant in 2010 killed three workers. Under the settlement, AL Solutions, a metal recycler located in New Cumberland, W. Va., agreed to pay a $100,000 civil penalty to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a $97,000 civil penalty to the U.S. Department of Labor.
AL Solutions also agreed to process or dispose of 2.4 million pounds of titanium and zirconium stored at its facilities in New Cumberland and Weirton by December. It also agreed to implement safety procedures at the New Cumberland plant. The safety procedures include hydrogen monitoring and forward-looking infrared heat detection to identify volatile drums and prevent fires and explosions. Two brothers, James Eugene Fish and Jeffrey Scott Fish, and a third worker, Steven Swain, were killed when an explosion occurred at the New Cumberland plant in December 2010.
The explosion occurred when titanium and/or zirconium powder reacted with moisture, causing the release of hydrogen gas. The gas ignited and caused titanium and zirconium particulates and filings to explode, according to the federal civil lawsuit. AL Solutions recycles titanium and zirconium raw materials for use as alloying additives by aluminum producers. EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin observed:
Our combined efforts have resulted in settlements that provide a comprehensive framework for the company to build cutting-edge safeguards into its processes in order to protect people and the environment.
Charges of storage violations by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) also will be resolved in this settlement. A DEP spokesman, Tom Aluise, stated:
There was a disagreement over the question of whether the materials were hazardous waste; however, it was resolved because (AL Solutions) agreed to remove all wastes by December 2014.
Civil lawsuits filed by the victims’ families against AL Solutions are pending in Hancock County Circuit Court. Mark Colantonio and Robert Fitzsimmons represent the Fish family in the lawsuit and Eric Frankovitch represents the Scott family.
Source: Insurance Journal
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