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NYS DEC announces consent decrees and penalties over SABIC's 2020 styrene release

 A rail car at SABIC's Selkirk facility leaked styrene vapor on September 1, 2020.
Jackie Orchard
A rail car at SABIC's Selkirk facility leaked styrene vapor on September 1, 2020.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced two consent orders with SABIC in Selkirk over the release of styrene vapor in September 2020. DEC says more than 22,000 pounds of the vapor was released from a railcar, threatening public health and safety. The agency assessed more than $320,000 in penalties and required facility improvements at the chemical manufacturing company.

“Today, DEC is holding SABIC accountable for creating a dangerous situation that threatened the health and safety of employees, emergency responders, and the surrounding community,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement Wednesday. “These enforcement actions include a substantial penalty and require SABIC to improve its operations to protect the surrounding community and the environment from further violations and prevent future emergencies.”

A DEC investigation uncovered improper handling and storage of hazardous substances as well as 29 violations of SABIC’s air permit, unrelated to the styrene release. SABIC is required to undertake a third-party audit of the facility’s hazardous substance management and develop new operating and training protocols.

In a statement to WAMC, SABIC says it fully cooperated with the investigation and is committed to safely operating in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.

"SABIC is grateful for the support of the state and partnership with local agencies that worked with us on this matter. With respect to the Order on Consent resolving deviations self-reported by the Company for the 2018 through 2020 time period, SABIC promptly addressed each issue at the time and self-reported the information.  The Company has implemented corrective measures to ensure strict compliance with all applicable laws and regulations and appreciates DEC’s cooperation in the resolution of these issues."

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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