Starfire hit with $10,000 state fine

Starfire Systems was recently ordered to pay nearly $10,000 in fines for a series of environmental v

Starfire Systems was recently ordered to pay nearly $10,000 in fines for a series of environmental violations at its Schenectady facilities.

The specialty materials manufacturer will make six payments of $1,583 each to the state Department of Environmental Conservation under an agreement both parties reached July 16, according to a DEC order.

After a January inspection by the state, the company located within the Tech Drive Business Park chalked up 35 violations that included the improper storage of hazardous waste, inadequate employee training, and failure to comply with state procedures required to handle the equipment at its lab facilities, among others.

Starfire Systems CEO David Devor is named as the respondent on the order. Company officials did not respond Wednesday to request for comment for this story.

Starfire, which employs 15, manufactures two classes of polymers that form different ceramics used in the automotive and aerospace industries. NASA is a customer.

The company has occupied about 10,000 square feet inside the Schenectady business park since 2010, when it moved its office from the Malta Commons Business Park and its laboratory and development operations from the Luther Forest Tech Park. It has about three years left on its lease.

Starfire uses heat and elements of carbon, silicon, hydrogen and oxygen at its chemical plant at 2165 Technology Drive.

The DEC inspection Jan. 19 determined that waste was stored in its hazardous waste tank for more than the legally allowed 90 days on three occasions from 2011 to 2012. In those instances, waste was stored for 192 days, 149 days and 126 days. The company also failed to mark the tank with start dates, according to the order.

Written confirmation was not obtained to authorize Starfire to send its waste to Norlite, which operates a hazardous waste incinerator in Cohoes, nor to have United Industrial Services transport it there.

Other violations called into question the quality of Starfire’s tank system because an independent engineer’s report never ensured the strength of its foundation, as well as proper coating, replacements, labeling or tightness testing of the system.

The company didn’t have a program to monitor this equipment, according to the order. It violated DEC regulations that require regular monitoring of pressure relief devices, valves and pumps to detect possible leaks.

Other company violations included having no written closure plan for its hazardous waste management facility, and not including job titles, descriptions, training background or the names of employees involved in any hazardous waste management.

It appears training was also lax at Starfire when it came to hazardous waste.

The inspection found the company hadn’t adequately trained employees to respond to hazardous waste-related emergencies. Regulation requires training in contingency plan implementation; inspecting and replacing emergency equipment and monitoring equipment; familiarization with emergency procedures, equipment and systems shutdown of operations; and an annual review of this training. Starfire failed to do any of these, according to the order.

Starfire came up short with preparedness regulations, as well.

There was no internal communications or alarm system to alert employees to emergencies at the time of the inspection, nor was there any attempt to familiarize local emergency response teams with the operations or types of waste handled at the Starfire plant, according to the order.

Starfire Systems, which filed for federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009, agreed to make monthly payments until December that will total $9,497. It will also take steps to comply with the regulations listed in the order.

Categories: Business

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