Washington — Solvay Specialty Polymers will pay $115,000 in federal fines for health and safety violations in a New Jersey plastics and chemical plant, according to U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
OSHA issued an Aug. 1 citation for three repeat and eight serious safety violations, including:
• Incomplete process safety information for equipment.
• Failure to review operating procedures to comply with safety practices.
• Failure to inspect and test equipment.
• Failure to follow established procedures to manage changes to process chemicals, technology, equipment, and/or facilities.
• Failure to respond properly to a compliance audit.
Solvay SA acquired the West Deptford, N.J., facility in 2002 and folded it into Solvay Specialty Polymers USA LLC in 2012. The 140 employees there produce polyvinilidene fluoride (PVDF) thermoplastic and Tecnoflon, a fluorinated elastomer, as well as fluorinated gases such as, 142b refrigerant and VF2.
“Our inspectors focused on vinylidene fluoride, a liquified flammable gas manufactured and used at Solvay Specialty Polymers' chemical facility,” said Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of OSHA's regional office in a statement. “This gas poses serious safety and health risks to this company's employees, including fire and explosion hazards, frostbite, skin and lung irritation, and liver damage associated with chronic exposures. An effective process safety management program is needed to protect workers and prevent the catastrophic release of highly hazardous chemicals.”
In March, Solvay settled a class-action lawsuit alleging that the same facility discharged perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) into the borough's water supply from 2009 through 2014. Under the settlement, Solvay agreed to pay $1.84 million into two funds: a $420,000 fund for monetary awards to Paulsboro, N.J. residents and a $1.42 million fund for resident blood tests. PFNA if used as surfactant in PVDF production.