Company fined for unsafely storing hazardous substance
A company that purchases and stores chemical waste products has today been fined $10000 for failing to safely store a hazardous substance.
The Auckland District Court heard how Department of Labour (now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) inspectors assessed the site owned by Auckland company, Chemrecovery Industries in August 2010 and found two 30kg drums of sodium metal stored unsafely.
“Sodium metal is potentially explosive and corrosive when mixed with water. In amounts greater than 100 grams the reaction is violent and unpredictable,” says John Howard the Department‘s Northern General Manager.
“The company did not have a current location test certificate for the sodium metal which certifies the hazardous substance is being stored in compliance with the regulations,” Mr Howard says.
A subsequent inspection later that month was carried out to further assess the site, and Department of Labour (now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) inspectors issued the company with an improvement notice when issues with stacking were noticed.
“The improvement notice required the company to rectify the unsafe stacking arrangements used on site to comply with the Department’s guidelines Safe Storage and Stacking,” Mr Howard says.
“Follow up inspections at the site in September and December showed that Chemrecovery Industries was continuing to ignore the advice and was not complying fully with the improvement notice.
“Unsafe storage and misuse of hazardous substances represents a major risk to those working and living close by the site. This prosecution sends a clear message that the Department will not tolerate breaches of the HSNO Act,” Mr Howard says.
Chemrecovery Industries Ltd was convicted on one charge under Section 39(5) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 as outlined below:
- Every person to whom or to which an improvement notice is given or posted shall comply with it.
- Chemrecovery Industries Ltd was convicted on one charge under Section 109(1)(e)(ii) of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 as outlined below:
- It is an offence against the Act to fail to comply with any controls specified in any regulations
- The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 is available online
- The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 is available online
- The HSNO Act is administered by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)
- The Safe Storage and Stacking publication is available online.