SELKIRK, N.Y. (WWTI) – A chemical manufacturing company based in New York has received severe penalties from the Department of Environmental Conservation.

According to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos, two Orders of Consent were executed with SHHPP US, LLC, known as “SABIC,” in Selkirk, New York on April 13. This included $322,500 in penalties and required facility improvements.

Commissioner Seggos said that these fines and penalties resulted from violations that took place in September 2020 at the SABIC plastics manufacturing facility that released approximately 22,057 pounds of styrene vapor to the environment.

The chemical was released from a railcar through its pressure relief valve and manway. Emergency responders, including the New York State Office of Emergency Management, State Police, State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, and local agencies responded.

This ultimately threatened public health and safety. The incident required multiple road closures, a shelter-in-place order for the public within a mile radius, and a public evacuation order within one-half mile of the facility.

An investigation led by the DEC revealed that the incident was caused by improper handling and storage of hazardous substances, improper maintenance and repair of the affected railcar, violations of air pollution regulations, and an unauthorized release of a hazardous substance.

Additionally, DEC’s inspection found an additional 29 violations of the facility’s Air Title V permit, which were unrelated to the styrene release.

“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,” Commissioner Seggos said in a press release. “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.”

The two Orders on Consent issued on April 13 addressed all violations from the styrene release incident, as well as the additional air permit violations.

SABIC will now be required to undertake a comprehensive third-party audit of the facility’s hazardous substance management and to develop recommendations for DEC staff review and to develop new operating procedures and employee training protocols.