In an administrative decision issued earlier this week, Elementis Chromium, Inc., one of the largest manufacturers of chromium chemicals in the world, was ordered to pay a penalty of $2,571,800 for failing to disclose information about substantial risk of injury to human health from exposure to hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen, on workers in modern chemical production plants, as required by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
“Our job is to protect all Americans from exposure to harmful chemicals at home, at work and in their daily lives,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This decision supports our commitment to public health and reinforces the importance of companies providing key information about the risks their chemicals pose.”
TSCA requires chemical manufacturers, processors, or distributors that obtain information demonstrating that a substance or mixture presents a substantial risk of injury to human health or the environment immediately inform the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This information allows EPA to understand and limit, when necessary, potential hazards associated with the manufacturing, use, and disposal of chemical substances.
In September 2010, EPA filed a complaint against Elementis with the Office of Administrative Law Judges, alleging TSCA violations for failing to report the results of an industry-commissioned study that documented significant occupational impacts to workers in modern chemical plants. According to EPA, the study filled a gap in scientific literature regarding the relationship between hexavalent chromium exposure and respiratory cancer in modern chromium production facilities. Chief Administrative Law Judge Susan Biro held an administrative hearing in December 2011, where both sides presented expert witnesses and additional evidence. On November 12, 2013, Judge Biro issued a decision and assessed a penalty, concluding that Elementis had violated TSCA.
This decision will become a final order 45 days following issuance unless the company chooses to appeal the decision to EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board.
Elementis, which is based in East Windsor, N.J., is a global specialty chemical company with operations worldwide. Elementis has been manufacturing and distributing chromium-based chemical substances and mixtures for more than 35 years and has two main manufacturing plants in Castle Hayne, N.C., and Corpus Christi, Texas.