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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Rhode Island

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 18, 2014

Chemical Firm Admits To Violating Clean Air Act By Failing To Develop And Implement Risk Storage Plan At Former Pawtucket Facility

Roberts Chemical Company Admits To Failing To Minimize The Chance Of Release Of Ethyl Ether, Protect Worker And Community Safety, Develop “worst Case” Response Plan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Roberts Chemical Company, Inc. pleaded guilty in federal court in Providence today to violating the Clean Air Act by failing to develop and implement a Risk Management Plan to minimize the chance of release of ethyl ether from its former Pawtucket, R.I., facility, and to protect workers, the community and emergency and first responders in the event of a release or fire involving ethyl ether. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations require a company’s Risk Management Plan include a “worst case” response plan.

Roberts Chemical Company, Inc., now located in Attleboro, Mass., is in the business of storing, distributing and repackaging chemicals, some of which are designated as extremely hazardous.

Ethyl ether is a volatile, extremely flammable liquid chemical. EPA regulations require facilities storing more than 10,000 lbs. of ethyl ether to develop and implement a Risk Management Plan. An investigation by EPA determined that in November and December 2008, Roberts Chemical Company, Inc. failed to develop and implement a Risk Management Plan while storing 27,467 lbs. of ethyl ether at their former facility at 258 Pine Street in Pawtucket.

The guilty plea was announced by the United States Attorney’s Office in Rhode Island and the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division Boston Area Office.

A sentencing hearing before U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr. has not been scheduled. A plea agreement filed with the court stipulates that at sentencing the Government and Roberts Chemical Company, Inc. will recommend the court impose a fine of $200,000. In addition, according to the plea agreement, Roberts Chemical Company, Inc. is required to issue a public apology. 

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Updated June 22, 2015