Presstek agrees to $116k payment in hazardous waste settlement

Charges stem from 2012 environmental inspection at Hudson plant

Presstek Inc. has agreed to pay $116,000 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to settle a complaint that it was lax in handling hazardous waste at its facility in Hudson.

In agreeing to the settlement, the company did not deny or admit to the EPA complaint, which was issued on Sept. 26. The EPA charged that the company left open drums of hazardous wastes, allowed those containers to rust, vented chemical fumes without treatment, did not properly label such chemicals, did not properly train staff and did not have adequate emergency safety plan.

The EPA said it found the violations during a routine inspection of the plant in August 2012. Inspectors allegedly found boxes of ignitable waste that weren’t labeled, aerosol cans that contained solvents and flammable materials that were not disposed of as hazardous, and a 990-gallon tank with waste solvent whose fumes were vented into the atmosphere without treatment.

While the company did have a hazardous waste contingency plan in place, the EPA said, it did not have information about evacuation, emergency equipment location and emergency procedures

The company’s training supplement was an online course that was not specific enough and two of those that sign hazardous waste manifests did not update their training, according to the complaint.

Inspectors also allegedly found an open container of MEK/Heptane, a toxic ignitable substance, and the facility drained water so it flowed through an area with hazardous waste containers, causing the bottoms to rust.

The EPA initially imposed a fine of $164,104 for 10 violations. About a month after the complaint, Presstek, then a publicly traded company based in Connecticut, was bought out by American Industrial Partners, a private equity firm, for $26 million.

Geoff Loftus, chief operating office of Presstek at the Hudson plant, agreed to the $116,000 settlement Jan. 2. It was approved by the EPA on Monday and the deal was announced on Wednesday.

“Presstek is currently in full compliance with all applicable EPA regulations at its Hudson, NH, production facility, and over the last 18 months has made numerous improvements to the integrity of our waste management systems, documentation, and training,” said Loftus in response to an NHBR inquiry. “Presstek has always been, and continues to be committed to operating all of its manufacturing processes in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.”

He added that the company was “grateful” to the EPA for its “professional and cooperative engagement.”

The EPA also said in a press release that Presstek had revised its contingency plan and personnel training program and is implementing a program to monitor and control air emissions, “reducing the potential risk to the community.”

In May 2008, the EPA fined Presstek $80,000 for a chemical spill in October 2006 at a facility in South Hadley, Mass., that caused the evacuation of local residents. The company also agreed to reimburse the town $32,000 for expenses.

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