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Justice News

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

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Warwick Chemical Company Pleads Guilty To Violating Clean Air Act For Failing To Develop And Implement Risk Storage Plan

Fined $200,000, Placed On Probation For Failing To Minimize The Chance Of Release Of Hydrofluoric Acid,

protect worker and community safety, develop “worst case” response plan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Mann Distribution, LLC, of Warwick, also known as Mann Chemical, LLC, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence on Tuesday to violating the Clean Air Act by failing to develop and implement a Risk Management Plan to minimize the chance of release of hydrofluoric acid from its Warwick facility, and to protect workers, the community, and emergency and first responders in the event of a chemical release or fire.

U.S. District Court Judge Mary M. Lisi imposed a fine of $200,000 and ordered the company to serve a term of 3 years probation for failing to adhere to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations which require a Risk Management Plan be developed, including a “worst case” response plan. Mann Chemical is also required to issue a public apology.

The guilty plea and sentence is announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Tyler Amon, Special Agent in Charge of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division.

"EPA's Risk Management Program has a clear purpose -- to prevent and prepare for releases of toxic and flammable substances that have the potential for catastrophic consequences. The sentence imposed by the court underscores the importance placed on protecting workers, emergency responders and communities," stated Tyler Amon, Special Agent in Charge of EPA's Criminal Program in Rhode Island.

EPA regulations require facilities storing more than 1,000 lbs. of hydrofluoric acid to develop and implement a Risk Management Plan. An EPA inspection in June 2009 determined that Mann Chemical failed to develop and implement a Risk Management Plan while storing 92 drums of hydrofluoric acid in a concentration of 70%. The inventory indicated that each drum weighed 500 pounds, for a total of 46,000 pounds of hydrofluoric acid.

According to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention website, hydrogen fluoride is a chemical compound that contains fluorine. It can exist as a colorless gas or as a fuming liquid, or it can be dissolved in water. When hydrogen fluoride is dissolved in water, it may be called hydrofluoric acid. Hydrofluoric acid is used mainly for industrial purposes, and may cause skin burns, tissue damage and/or respiratory concerns.

The matter was investigated by the U.S. EPA Criminal Investigation Division with the assistance of the REFP Unit of the Office of Environmental Stewardship with EPA's Region 1 office.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Terrence P. Donnelly and Special Assistant United States Attorney Peter Kenyon of the Environmental Protection Agency.


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Contact: 401-709-5357

Updated June 22, 2015