Area businesses with dangerous chemicals work closely with emergency services on response plans

Area businesses with dangerous chemicals work closely with emergency services on response plans

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Two companies in the area use such large quantities of potentially toxic chemicals that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires they submit disaster response plans.

Evonik Cyro's manufacturing plant in Wallingford and Bozzuto’s Inc.’s warehouse in Cheshire are two of 27 facilities in Connecticut required to submit “risk management plans” to the EPA because they exceed a certain threshold of regulated substances, according to a report published by the Connecticut Health Investigative Team this week.

Evonik Cyro's plant, located at 528 S. Cherry St. along with allnex’s facility, has to submit a risk management plan because it carries more than 20,000 pounds of acrylonitrile, a chemical used to make medical devices and other plastic products. According to the EPA, short-term exposure to acrylonitrile can cause headaches, dizziness and nausea. The EPA classifies acrylonitrile as a “probable human carcinogen” based on limited evidence in human and rat studies.

Bozzuto’s facilities in Cheshire and North Haven carry more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, a natural refrigerant. Symptoms from inhalation of ammonia anhydrous can range from coughing and headaches to severe shortness of breath, depending on the concentration, according to the EPA.

Other facilities required to submit a plan in the area include StanChem Inc.’s Berlin facility, 401 Berlin St., which uses vinyl acetate to make polymer products. Acute exposure to vinyl acetate can cause eye irritation and upper respiratory irritation, according to the EPA. It is not classified as a carcinogen.

An amendment to the Clean Air Act of 1990 mandated that facilities holding large quantities of certain potentially toxic chemicals submit a “risk management plan” to the EPA detailing the procedures to be followed if an explosion sends those chemicals airborne, C-HIT reported.

The plans are meant to provide “valuable information to local fire, police and emergency response personnel to prepare and respond to chemical emergencies in their community,” according to the EPA.

David Falt, director of engineering and design for Bozzuto’s, said anhydrous ammonia used for refrigeration is a naturally occurring chemical and only considered toxic in high concentrations and explosive in very high concentrations. Ammonia is considered a “self-alarming chemical,” Falt said, because people can smell it easily at low quantities.

“People will seek relief from the effects before they are faced with a harmful concentration,” he said.

Cheshire Fire Chief Jack Casner said the department communicates with Bozzuto’s facility and coordinates emergency response plans. The department was recently involved with a emergency response drill at the Cheshire facility a couple weeks ago, Casner said.

“We are involved with them on a regular basis, we train with them. Their staff is excellent,” Casner said.

Correction: A previous version of this story misreported the company allnex is required to submit a risk management plan to the EPA because it carries more than 20,000 pounds of acrylonitrile. Evonik Cyro, a company co-located with allnex at 528 S. Cherry St. in  Wallingford, carries the chemical and is required to submit a risk management plan.


Twitter: @MatthewZabierek

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