Umatilla Chemical Depot operator fined for violations

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has fined the operator of the Umatilla Chemical Depot’s incineration plant near Hermiston, Oregon, for the second time this year because of multiple hazardous waste violations.

The Umatilla Chemical Depot, which is operated by the Washington Demilitarization Company, is currently tasked with the disposal of an aging chemical weapons stockpile. The latest major violation resulted from a failure to conduct a comprehensive air quality monitoring test for the chemical weapon agent in the filter system of the plant, Oregon Live reports.  

The Washington Demilitarization Company was fined a total of $58,600 for eight violations. This follow $41,600 in civil penalties the company faced to meet compliance with the plant’s waste treatment permit, the Tri City Herald reports.

While there were real-time monitors checking the air quality during the disposal of VX nerve agent, a secondary monitor that is necessary for checking residual levels of the chemical was not completely operational for almost an entire month.

Hal McCune, a spokesman for the Umatilla Chemical Agent Disposal Facility, told the Tri City Herald that there was no time during which the public, workers or the environment were in jeopardy and that, while the violations should not have occurred, they did not present a direct danger.

Other violations included disposing of two ton containers of mustard agent even though the waste had arsenic in excess of the permit limit, failure to conduct weekly inspections of the waste storage area for 10 weeks, and failing to repair a 24 hour leak of hazardous waste from a brine tank.

McCune said that the company does not plan to appeal the fine, the Tri City Herald reports.