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Federal health and safety officials fined Chemours $12,600 after at least 19 employees at its Fayetteville Works plant were exposed to methylene chloride in 2013, according to federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration data.
Methylene chloride is also known as dichloromethane. A liquid, its primary use is as a solvent in manufacturing, including degreasers and food technology, although it can be used as an anesthetic gas and acts as a narcotic in high concentrations. Depending on the length and amount of exposure, methylene chloride can cause cancer, particularly of the lung and liver, as well as genetic defects. The compound also can irritate the eyes, skin and lungs. It can cause drowsiness.
Federal data on Chemours/DuPont and hundreds of other companies, along with links to supporting documents, have been compiled by Good Jobs First’s Violation Tracker. (See a full list of Chemours violations below.) Chemours did not respond to a request for more details about the 2013 incident. OSHA referred Policy Watch to the NC Department of Labor for documentation; Policy Watch has filed a public records request requesting the information.
The fine on the Fayetteville Works plant is a minuscule portion of the $28.6 million levied nationwide against Chemours and/or its related companies, such as DuPont, since 2000. Most of the fines were assessed for environmental violations, nearly $763,000 was assessed for workplace health and safety violations.
More than half of Chemours’ total penalty amount stemmed from environmental violations related to the DuPont/Chemours Washington Works plant in Washington, WV. The Justice Department fined the company $16 million for withholding possible health risks of C8 (also known as PFOA), a precursor to GenX. Internal company data showed that rats died after inhaling the chemical and that it could be passed between a woman and her unborn child via the placenta.
The company agreed to pay another $671 million in a class-action lawsuit over contaminated drinking water, which affected thousands of residents in Ohio and West Virginia.
Policy Watch also asked state Department of Labor officials about any recent complaints and workplace investigations related to GenX at the Fayetteville Works plant. Policy Watch’s inquiry was prompted by a comment by Mike Abraczinskas, director of the state’s Division of Air Quality, at a Science Advisory Board meeting in March. He told the SAB that state environmental officials believed groundwater and soil were being contaminated by chemicals leaving the plant through the air. The primary sources of the contamination, Abraczinskas said, were from air the escaped from inside the plant and emissions vented through the plant’s stacks.
State labor department officials told Policy Watch that there were no active investigations at the Fayetteville Works plant, nor have they received any complaints from Chemours employees concerning safety and health, a department spokeswoman said.
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Chemours violations and fines 2000–2017
|Company||State||City||Description, when available||Year||Penalty ($)||Agency|
|Chemours||Tennessee||Memphis||Release of hydrogen cyanide above legal amounts; failure to notify||2017||23,010||Environmental Protection Agency|
|Chemours/DuPont||West Virginia||Washington||Control of hazardous chemicals, workplace violations||2017||18,108||Occupational Safety and Health Administration|
|Chemours||Not listed in federal documents||Railroad safety violations||2017||5,750||Federal Railroad Administration|
|Chemours||Not listed in federal documents||Railroad safety violations||2017||7,600||FRA|
|Chemours||Florida||Starke||Machinery accident at titanium ore mine; one worker died||2016||5,000||Mining Safety and Health Administration|
|Chemours/First Chemical||Mississippi||Pascagoula||Release of anhydrous ammonia above legal amounts; failure to notify||2016||23,010||EPA|
|Chemours||New Jersey||Deepwater||Workplace violations --3 serious and 1 repeat -- related to design and construction of exit routes, process and management of hazardous chemicals||2016||25,350||OSHA|
|Chemours||Not listed in federal documents||Railroad safety violations||2016||8,400||FRA|
|Chemours/DuPont||Texas||La Porte||Workplace violations -- 3 serious and 2 repeat -- regarding manufacturing of hazardous chemicals||2015||285,848||OSHA|
|Chemours/DuPont||New Jersey||Deepwater||Clean Air Act violations: improper maintenance, repair of two large refrigeration units that leaked chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) into environment. Failure to accurately submit reports to EPA under Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.||2015||531,000||EPA|
|Chemours/DuPont||New York||Tonawanda||Clean Air Act violations relating to a fire and explosion at its chemical plant||2015||724,000||EPA|
|Chemours||New York||Niagara Falls||2 serious workplace safety violations: Chemours did not provide adequate protection, such as acid suits, to employees exposed to contact and chemical burns from sodium hydroxide||2015||12,000||OSHA|
|Chemours/DuPont||New York||Tonawanda||Penalty associated with air pollution control measures required by the Clean Air Act, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act at its chemical manufacturing facility||2014||440,000||EPA|
|Chemours/DuPont||West Virginia||Belle||Settlement involves eight alleged releases of harmful levels of hazardous substances May 2006 to January 2010, posing health risks to residents and workers. One DuPont worker died after exposure to phosgene, a toxic gas released due to DuPont's failure to comply with industry accident prevention procedures||2014||1,275,000||EPA|
|Chemours/DuPont||Texas||La Porte||4 workers died trying to unblock a plug in a pipe at the facility's Crop Production Unit when a sudden release of Methyl Mercaptain occurred.||2014||106,375||OSHA|
|Chemours/DuPont||Louisiana||Darrow||2 serious violations involving process and handling of hazardous chemicals||2014||10,500||OSHA|
|Chemours/DuPont||New Jersey||Deepwater||8 serious violations involving the process and handling of hazardous chemicals||2014||78,500||OSHA|
|Chemours/DuPont||Louisiana||Darrow||3 serious and 1 other violation involving the process and handling of hazardous chemicals||2014||28,000||OSHA|
|Chemours/DuPont||New York||Niagara Falls||3 serious violations: Lithium operator's upper body covered with molten lithium; personal protective equipment ignited. Also violations for hand protection, floor and wall openings and holes||2014||16,800||OSHA|
|Chemours/DuPont||North Carolina||Fayetteville||At least 19 workers exposed to Methylene Chloride||2013||12,600||OSHA|
|Chemours/DuPont||West Virginia||Washington||Clean Air Act violations at DuPont's Washington Works Facility||2013||800,000||EPA|
|Chemours||Florida||Starke||Multiple unauthorized wastewater discharges because of rain, improper facility maintenance/ management||2012||700,000||EPA|
|Chemours||New York||Niagara Falls||2 serious violations regarding mishandling of sulfuric acid||2012||9,000||OSHA|
|Chemours/DuPont||Texas||Beaumont||5 serious violations: mishandling of hazardous chemicals, improper equipment, flammable liquids||2011||18,000||OSHA|
|Chemours/DuPont||New Jersey||Deepwater||Settlement involved alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at wastewater treatment facility||2011||250,000||EPA|
|Chemours/DuPont||West Virginia||Belle||1 serious violation: hazard communication||2011||5,500||OSHA|
|Chemours/DuPont||Kentucky||Wurtland||Employee died when a rail tank car containing 95% sulfuric acid overflowed. Employee was burned over 40% of his body.||2011||12,600||OSHA|
|Chemours/DuPont||New York||Niagara Falls||2 serious violations, including problems with a gantry crane||2010||6,275||OSHA|
|Chemours/DuPont||West Virginia||Belle||11 serious violations: Employees were exposed to chemical burns and inhalation hazards from leaks of corrosive Oleum liquid due to an inadequate pipe inspection program. The leak occurred in 2010, but the pipe had not been inspected since its installation in 1993.||2010||43,000||OSHA|
|Chemours/DuPont||West Virginia||Belle||Clean Air Act violations at a sulfuric acid plant||2009||2,000,000||DOJ|
|Chemours/First Chemical||Kentucky, Mississippi||Louisville, Pasagoula||Clean Air Act violations resulting from explosions at two plants in 2002 and 2003 in Louisville, Ky., and Pascagoula, Miss.||2009||731,000||DOJ|
|Chemours/DuPont||West Virginia||Washington||Involved federal violations related to the production of PFOAs||2005||16,500,000||DOJ|
|Chemours/DuPont||Tennessee||New Johnsonville||Clean Air Act settlement requiring company to retrofit equipment to reduce use of ozone-depleting refrigerants and conduct other remediation||2005||2,550,000||DOJ|
|Chemours||Florida||Starke||Clean Water Act violations||2004||127,600||EPA|
|Chemours/DuPont||Kentucky||Wurtland||2 serious workplace safety violations related to manufacturing hazardous chemicals||2004||9,000||OSHA|
|Chemours/DuPont||Kentucky||Louisville||Clean Air Act case involving chemical release of 1,1-difluoroethane (“DFE"). Accident resulted in immediate release of a high pressure stream of hydrogen fluoride into the air inside and outside the facility. DuPont was unable to contain or block that release for 40 minutes, and 5.75 tons of hydrogen fluoride escaped into the air.||2003||1,102,000||DOJ|
|Chemours||Mississippi||Pascagoula||Failed to include chemical's name, identification and production volume on required report||2003||15,895||EPA|
|Chemours/DuPont||Mississippi||Pascagoula||5 serious violations: mishandling of hazardous chemicals, improper equipment, flammable liquids||2002||15,300||OSHA|
|Chemours||Florida||Starke||Clean Water Act violations involving wastewater discharge||2000||19,800||EPA|
Source: Good Jobs First