2 R.I. manufacturers to pay combined $280K for EPA violations

WARWICK – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered two Rhode Island manufacturers to pay a total of almost $280,000 in civil penalties for violating reporting and review standards around their usages of anhydrous ammonia and metals.

Under one of two proposed, separate settlements, Warwick-based Millard Wire, which manufactures custom metal wire and metal strips, will pay a $170,261 penalty. In the second, W.R. Cobb in East Providence, a jewelry component manufacturer, will pay $108,900.

Though the settlements remain pending, both companies have agreed to pay the fines, according to the EPA.

Millard Wire failed to submit required forms documenting its use and processing of anhydrous ammonia, copper and nickel, the EPA said in a news release, as well as forms intended to provide transparency and foster safety for first responders.

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Anhydrous ammonia, a refrigerant, is a federally-classified “extremely hazardous substance” due to corrosive qualities and potential to cause skin, eye and lung damage.

The Warwick manufacturer also did not conduct a process hazard review, the EPA said, as required under Clean Air Act standards. About 10,000 people live within 1 mile of the W.R. Cobb manufacturing facility, the EPA noted.

W.R. Cobb, meanwhile, did not file reports on its use of anhydrous ammonia in manufacturing processes, the EPA said, and also violated the Clean Air Act in its failure to conduct a process hazard review. The violations took place from 2018 to 2020.

W.R. Cobb has filed the three missing TRI reports and completed the required review since receiving EPA notice of the violations in 2021, the agency said.

In a statement, EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash said that the settlement “will strengthen public safety, highlights accident prevention and the community’s right to know about chemicals in their environment.

“We take these responsibilities seriously, especially to protect local populations that face disproportionate environmental risks in New England,” Cash continued.

Millard Wire and W.R. Cobb did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Under the reporting requirements, established under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, companies must report their usage of certain chemicals for use in the Toxic Release Inventory. The publicly-accessible data collection is intended to provide information on potential public health and environmental threats.

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Voghel@PBN.com.