News Column

EPA fines Hawaii Gas

June 11, 2014

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser



June 11--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined Hawaii Gas$155,000 for violations of risk management plan regulations and chemical release reporting involving its Kapolei facility.

The fine represents a settlement between the EPA and the company.

The Kapolei facility manufactures synthetic natural gas for its Oahu customers and was found to be in violation during a January 2012 audit of five years' worth of records, according to an EPA statement.

Inspectors found that the facility released 3,585 pounds of sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda, or lye. While the release was reported to state and local officials, Hawaii Gas also was required to report it to the federal National Response Center since the amount exceeded 1,000 pounds.

No health or environmental impacts resulted from the release, made to an underground injection well, the EPA said.

"Risk management plans are critical components of safety programs designed to prevent chemical accidents," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "They must be carried out diligently to protect workers, nearby residents and the local environment."

Hawaii Gas spokeswoman Jill Tokunaga said Wednesday that the company takes workplace and environmental health and safety "very seriously."

"It is an important priority for us," she said. "We take responsibility for any violations that have occurred, and have worked cooperatively with the EPA to immediately address any issues with environmental compliance and we are now in full compliance. At no point was there any threat to the safety of the public or our employees."

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Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI)