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State says Wallingford plant in compliance with environmental guidelines

WALLINGFORD — Ametek Specialty Metal Products installed equipment to more accurately track its release of trichloroethylene, bringing the Toelles Road manufacturer into compliance with state environmental guidelines.

Initially cited by the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection for violating emission standards in September 2010, Ametek wasn’t considered compliant under state law until the environmental agency’s third follow-up inspection, on Jan. 28, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request. Ametek’s case file with the environmental agency was officially closed on Feb. 28. There are no ongoing issues with Ametek, spokesman Dennis Schain said.

Based upon action taken by Ametek, the agency decided to close the case, Robert Girard, assistant director of its Bureau of Air Management, wrote in his Feb. 28 letter to Ametek plant manager Robert Deschenes.

“However, if the department learns that the violations alleged in said notice have not been fully resolved as represented, or if other violations exist not addressed in said notice, the department may take formal enforcement action,” Girard wrote.

Ametek produces a variety of metal products and uses trichloroethylene, or TCE, as a vapor degreaser for three machines that cut metal sheets into strips.

Inhalation of the chemical can harm the central nervous system, and long-term exposure is associated with several types of cancers, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

A demographic profile provided by the EPA shows 15,068 households surrounding Ametek within a three-mile radius.

Ametek is required to abide by Title V permit regulations since it releases TCE into the air. The permit requires record-keeping and monitoring to assure compliance.

In July 2012, inspector Anita Masih audited Ametek’s records from 2009 through 2011 and found the company violated permit conditions on three separate occasions in 2010.

The company’s permit allows each metal cutting machine to release a maximum of 8 pounds per hour and 40 pounds per day of TCE.

One machine was releasing more TCE than allowed — 68.6 pounds on Aug. 26, 2010, 43.6 pounds on Jan. 20, 2010, and 41.3 pounds on Oct. 28, 2010.

Ametek representatives did not return calls for comment.

According to documents, Ametek’s violation occurred due to the difficulty of measuring the TCE applied to the metal cutting machines. Employees previously relied on visually reading markers on tanks holding TCE and the frequency of refilling the tanks to determine daily TCE output.

The company installed flow meters on the three tanks in November 2012.

Masih inspected Ametek soon after the flow meters were installed, but found recording errors in the use of TCE. She recommended the company begin better training programs before it be considered compliant.

Another follow-up inspection by Masih, on Aug. 30, 2013, found that personnel were estimating TCE usage after the fact instead of recording daily actual usage. She recommended that the company refine record keeping standards. Twitter: @Andyragz

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