More than a quarter-million dollars in fines have been levied against a scrap recycling firm that operates a facility in Cohoes and may have emitted toxic chemicals into the air for nine months in 2011.
According to a consent order from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, N.H. Kelman Inc. failed to properly inspect its operations, illegally disposed of lead-acid batteries and solid waste, spilled petroleum, kept inadequate records and failed to maintain minimum temperatures in its two furnaces. As a result, the company faces a civil penalty of $258,300, with $150,000 going to the DEC and the remainder suspended as long as certain conditions are met.
DEC spokesman Rick Georgeson said it is the largest fine in the history of this DEC region, which covers nine counties. He explained that many of the DEC’s consent orders waive a portion of a fine.
Kelman has up to 150 days to comply with certain conditions, such as the implementation of a stormwater pollution prevention plan, and has to immediately respond to other provisions, such as ending the accumulation of solid waste on site except when it is stored properly. The company must also install a device on its furnaces that will stop operations if the temperature falls below 1,600 degrees, according to Georgeson.
According to the DEC, one of the company’s furnaces went below this threshold for a majority of the time between January 2011 and September 2011. A second furnace dropped below the temperature a few times during a three-day period in August. This is a violation of federal regulations because at temperatures below 1,600 degrees, the operation can send out the toxic chemicals dioxin and furan.
Georgeson said there is no way to tell whether the site actually emitted the chemicals when it dropped below the legal temperature, but the new device should prevent that possibility in the future.