The United States has reportedly amended its complaint in an enforcement action against the owners and operators of a Danvers, Massachusetts, inks and paint products plant that exploded in 2006, adding a charge of violation of the Clean Air Act’s (CAA’s) general duty clause. U.S. v. C.A.I., Inc., No. 10-10390 (D. Mass. filed 7/19/10). The original complaint filed in March 2010 sought $2.7 million in costs that EPA incurred under CERCLA cleaning up the site after the explosion, as well as future costs that EPA might incur.
The CAA’s general duty clause requires companies to take measures to prevent and minimize the effects of accidental releases of extremely hazardous substances. The amended complaint alleges that a number of facility conditions contributed to the general duty clause violation, including (i) failure to identify the hazards of operating an ink-mixing process without proper ventilation, (ii) lack of appropriate vapor detectors and alarms to detect buildups of dangerous vapors while workers were not present, (iii) storage of considerable quantities of flammable substances, and (iv) flammable substances in a tank that was left mixing overnight.
The explosion destroyed a 12,000-square-foot building and damaged much of the surrounding commercial and residential property. See BNA Daily Environmental Report, August 18, 2010.