SELKIRK — New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced two orders on consent with SABIC, including $322,400 in penalties and required facility improvements, enforcing violations stemming from the September 2020 incident that resulted in the release of approximately 22,057 pounds of styrene vapor.
“Today, DEC is holding SABIC accountable for creating a dangerous situation that threatened the health and safety of employees, emergency responders, and the surrounding community,” Commissioner Basil Seggos said on Wednesday, April 13, “These enforcement actions include a substantial penalty and require SABIC to improve its operations to protect the surrounding community and the environment from further violations and prevent future emergencies.”
Multiple road closures, a shelter-in-place order for the public within a mile radius, and a public evacuation order within one-half mile of the facility were ordered after styrene vapor was released from a railcar at Selkirk facility through its pressure relief valve and manway. Emergency responders, including the New York State Office of Emergency Management, State Police, State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, and local governmental agencies, responded to the facility.
DEC’s investigation of the incident revealed improper handling and storage of hazardous substances, improper maintenance and repair of the railcar, violations of air pollution regulations, and an unauthorized release of a hazardous substance. In addition, DEC’s inspection found an additional 29 violations of the facility’s Air Title V permit, unrelated to the styrene release.
The two orders on consent address all violations from the styrene release event, as well as the additional air permit violations. In addition to the penalties imposed and to help prevent future incidents, DEC’s Orders on Consent require SABIC to undertake a comprehensive third-party audit of the facility’s hazardous substance management and to develop recommendations for DEC staff review, and to develop new operating procedures and employee training protocols.