Othello chemical company maintains its innocence despite six-figure fine from
OTHELLO – Even though it’s been fined $135,000 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an Othello-based chemical storage company says it still isn’t admitting to any wrongdoing in regards to violating the Clean Air Act.
Multistar Industries in Othello stores and distributes anhydrous ammonia and other chemicals.
The EPA and U.S. Department of Justice allege that they both found that the chemical storage and distribution company violated multiple chemical accident prevention provisions of the Clean Air Act. Between 2013 and 2017, EPA alleges that Multistar failed to comply with a section of the Clean Air Act which requires facilities that store more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia to be properly designed, operated and maintained to minimize the risk of an accidental release.
The EPA alleges that Multistar failed to properly design its ammonia storage and distribution system, adequately maintain inspection and testing records on certain equipment, and develop and implement written operating procedures for certain aspects of its ammonia operations consistent with industry standards.
The EPA also accuses Multistar of failing to promptly update deficiencies identified in required compliance audits and failed to meet requirements of a 2016 compliance order Multistar entered into with EPA.
However, Multistar’s Regulatory Compliance Officer Martin Crowley chalks up the EPA’s charges as mere accusations, calling the fine a “settlement.” Crowley says the fine is the result of Multistar’s decision to forgo years of litigation and legal fees; expenditures Crowley says the company can’t afford.
“If MULTiSTAR had the unlimited financial resources of the federal government, we would have continued litigation to prove the allegations were unfounded,” says MULTiSTAR Regulatory Compliance Officer, Martin Crowley. “Regardless of the credibility of the allegations, small businesses like ours have no choice but to buckle under the crushing weight of the federal government.”
Crowley continues, “MULTiSTAR prides itself in conducting its business with the utmost care and safety. Since MULTiSTAR’s founding almost 60 years ago, there has never been a single incident of harm to the community or the environment.”
The Clean Air Act is a law designed to protect the public and first responders from dangerous chemicals.
It appears that the EPA will continue to monitor Multistar’s progress towards full compliance after stating that the chemical storage company will be subject to additional fines if it doesn’t fully adhere to federally-mandated rules and regulations.