Sure Power, Inc. given $3,519 penalty for improper hazardous waste disposal

The discovery of hazardous sludge at a Tualatin-based manufacturer prompted a $3,500 fine from Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality — and highlights an ongoing lag in proper safety procedures at Sure Power Industries, Inc., says to the regulatory agency.

According to the DEQ, the primary violation was the circuit protection product manufacturer’s storage of hazardous waste sludge beyond the legal limit of 90 days. Sure Power reportedly stored the materials for about two years, and did not properly label flammable waste solvent as hazardous waste material, the agency reported.

Sure Power stopped chrome operations at its site at 10189 S.W. Avery Street in 2010, after which the DEQ found the company had held “several hundred pounds of chromium waste” on-site without a proper storage permit.

In compliance with the law, Sure Power reported that it generated more than 2,200 pounds of hazardous waste each month from 2010 through 2012. But a DEQ investigation found the company’s environmental manager had resigned in August 2012, and the remaining staff was insufficiently trained to handle hazardous waste management.

During a routine but unannounced DEQ inspection of the facility in October 2012, the agency found materials still stored on the company’s premises.

Sure Power has since properly disposed of the waste and has held more extensive staff safety training, the DEQ found.

During the Oct. 8 inspection, the DEQ found 79 pounds of chrome wastewater treatment sludge residue, 314 pounds of chrome waste and several five-gallon pails of Pearl Solvent which had not been properly identified as flammable.

The DEQ also reported that the company failed to ship chrome sludge waste for proper disposal from December 2010 until the October 2012 inspection.

“Penalty amounts are determined by using our enforcement rules,” Sarah Wheeler, an environmental law specialist with the DEQ, explained. The criteria considers the length of the violation and the “mental state” of the company in question, she added.

The $3,519 penalty was calculated from a $2,000 base fine for Sure Power’s failure to judge residue as hazardous waste, with additional dollar amounts added when it was determined the company should have reasonably been expected to understand it was in violation of the law with its disposal practices. An additional base fine of $1,000 for storing hazardous waste without a permit was added for the class II minor violation, with the infraction described as “repeated and ongoing.”

Sure Power was informed of the DEQ judgment on May 22 and given 20 days from that date to appeal the decision.

Wheeler said there was no evidence that anyone was harmed by Sure Power’s improper storage of hazardous materials.

Calls to Sure Power Industries were not returned by press deadline.

Since May of last year, the DEQ has issued two citations in Tualatin, including a $2,000 harmful waste violation at Superior Metal Finishing in August. The agency has issued five citations in Tigard, including a more than $6,300 penalty at Agilyx, a plastic waste processor.

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