FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 24, 2014
DEP TAKES FORMAL ENFORCEMENT ACTION AGAINST THATCHER CHEMICAL IN RESPONSE TO OFFENSES IN TWO LOCATIONS
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department
of Environmental Protection recently initiated formal enforcement action against
Thatcher Chemical of Florida, Inc. following inspections of two of its
facilities in Florida. The investigations identified numerous violations of
State environmental regulations, prompting immediate corrective actions, including cleanup of contaminated soil. The Department is requiring
additional corrective actions and payment of civil penalties in excess of $230,000.
Thatcher Chemical of
Florida, Inc. is a chemical production facility operating at locations in
DeLand and Palmetto. The DeLand facility was inspected by Department staff in
August 2013 following an anonymous complaint that chemicals were
being buried on site. The Department responded immediately and identified a significant amount of
waste and contaminated soil at the facility. It is estimated between 2010 and 2011, facility staff
buried 100 to 200 thousand pounds of ferric sulfate sludge, a byproduct of the
facility’s production process, in the wooded area behind the plant.
In addition to burying hazardous
materials, the facility also had illicit discharges of pollutants in the ground.
In January, Department staff inspected Thatcher Chemical’s Palmetto
site and identified discharges of pollutants to the ground and
to the stormwater management system near that facility.
“The Department of Environmental Protection takes our role of protecting public health and the environment serious and we are committed to making sure
facilities are in compliance with applicable regulations,” said Jeff Prather, Director
of DEP’s Central District. “When a business takes actions that are calculated, grossly
negligent, and potentially harmful to the environment, we will pursue
formal enforcement with maximum penalties.”
The Department strives to help businesses understand and adhere to Florida's rules and regulations, and to minimize the possibility of environmental harm. However,
when Florida’s laws and the Department’s efforts to assist with compliance are
disregarded, formal enforcement action is initiated. In this case, violations in the management of hazardous waste have led to monetary penalties and corrective actions. Additionally, the
Department is consulting with law enforcement officials to determine if criminal
action is warranted.
Fortunately, a case like this is rare, and the vast majority of the nearly 75,000 facilities regulated by
the Department are in compliance. In 2013, facilities considered in significant
compliance with Florida Department of Environmental Protection rules and
regulations rose to 96 percent, a two percent increase from 2012. This is based
on tens of thousands of inspections and monitoring samples statewide. For more
information on DEP’s compliance rates and outreach efforts click here.