For Immediate Release - July 19, 2013

North Carolina Company Pays $40,000 Penalty for Delayed Response to Methanol Spill, Numerous Environmental Violations at Leominster Facility

BOSTON - The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has assessed a $40,000 penalty to South/Win, Ltd. of North Carolina to settle numerous environmental violations found following a 12,000-gallon methanol release that occurred on March 7, 2011.  

The spill occurred at the South/Win facility located on Nashua Street in Leominster. This facility uses large volumes of methanol, delivered by rail car, to produce various types of windshield cleaner and automotive consumer products. On March 7, 2011, company employees discovered an apparent leak from a hose line used to transfer the methanol from railcars to the building. A backflow valve apparently failed, discharging 12,000 gallons of methanol to the rail bed.

For a spill of this magnitude, notification to MassDEP is required within two hours of discovery, and assessment and cleanup should begin immediately. The company not only failed to notify MassDEP until March 10, but also did not hire an environmental contractor to conduct the cleanup until that date.

Following the release, the facility was inspected by MassDEP and numerous Air Pollution Control and Hazardous Waste Management violations were found, including: acting as an unregistered hazardous waste generator; acting as a storage facility for hazardous wastes and off-specification product; failing to engage in adequate employee training; and violations of the company's Air Quality Plan Approval.

Under terms of a consent order, South/Win agreed paid the $40,000 penalty, and worked with MassDEP staff to revise its spill contingency and material management plans, better trained its workforce to address product spills, and corrected all outstanding violations.      

"Immediate response actions and timely spill notification are critical to avoiding greater environmental damage, and these requirements are the cornerstone of Massachusetts' hazardous waste cleanup regulations," said Lee Dillard Adams, director of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester.  "One positive outcome of this matter is that South/Win is overhauling its business practices to avoid future potential environmental problems."

MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.