Enforcement of National Emissions Standard for Vinyl Chloride
JUNE 28, 1983
SUBJECT: Enforcement of National Emissions Standard for
FROM: Michael S. Alushin
Acting Associate Enforcement Counsel for Air
Edward E. Reich, Director
Stationary Source Compliance Division
TO: Regional Counsels, Regions I-VI & IX
Directors, Air and Waste Management Divisions
Directors, Air Management Divisions
Regions I, V, and IX
In order to encourage consistency in enforcing the standards
governing emissions of vinyl chloride, 40 CFR Section 61.60 et
seq., this memorandum summarizes our enforcement activity to
date and sets out some general guidelines for determining when
enforcement action may be necessary.
History of Vinyl Chloride Enforcement
So far, most of the actions initiated by EPA have been to
enforce the relief valve discharge standard, Section 61.65(a).
Eleven Cases have been referred to EPA HQ citing violations of
this standard, none of which have been solely for relief valve
discharges. Of these, two have been filed and concluded by
consent decree, these are ongoing filed actions, five have been
referred to the Department of Justice or U.S. Attorney, and one
is under review in EPA Headquarters.
Enforcement of other portions of the vinyl chloride
regulations has been limited. Two civil actions were filed in
1979 for failure to comply with the 10 ppm exhaust gas limitation
by the end of the two-year waiver period authorized in Section
112 of the Act. These actions were concluded by consent decree.
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Four other case referrals were never filed and are no longer
active. Two of these were to enforce the 110 ppm standard and
the other two cited various parts of the regulation, including
the stripping and reactor opening loss standards.
Guidelines for Vinyl Chloride Enforcement
We do not wish to establish a rigid standard for what degree
of violations rises to the level of an actionable claim. However,
the following factors should be considered to determine whether
action to enforce the relief valve discharge standard is warranted:
1) The frequency and size of the discharges. We encourage
you to develop and refer enforcement actions where either or
both of these factors is significant. For example, one filed
actions involved a total release of only 1,100 pounds of vinyl
chloride but a large number (21) of violations. Another case
was referred for only two discharges where one of them was for
2) Length of time elapsed since most recent discharge. This
may be an indication of whether the source has solved the problems
which were causing the discharges. We have referred in the past,
and we will continue to refer, cases seeking penalties only for
past violations. However, you should place a higher priority on
enforcement against sources which are continuing to experience
3) Violations of the reporting requirement. Section 61.65(a)
requires a company to report the occurrence of any relief value
discharge within 10 days. This requirement applies even if the
company claims that the discharge was not preventable and thus
not a violation. A few of the cases have involved failures to
report, and in many instances EPA only learned of the discharges
through issuance of a Section 114 letter. We consider reporting
violations to be very serious, because our ability to enforce
the standard hinges directly on self-reporting. The existence
of reporting violations should weigh very heavily in the direction
of initiating enforcement action.
4) Need for remedial measures. Even where the frequency and
size of discharges is relatively small, enforcement action should
be carefully considered if measures can be identified which EPA
believes will prevent future discharges due to the same causes.
5) State enforcement activity. Authority to enforce the
vinyl chloride standards has been delegated to many states. This
authority is concurrent with, and does not displace, EPA
enforcement authority. If a plant is located in a state where the
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Program has been delegated, an initial contact with the state
should be helpful in determining whether EPA needs to initiate
enforcement. EPA should be prepared to take action, however, in
any situation in which the state indicates it will not enforce
or fails to do so adequately and in a timely manner.
We interpret the standard to establish a presumption that
any relief valve discharge is a violation, with the company having
the burden to show that it was preventable. Nonetheless, to be
in a strong position to litigate a case, the Agency should be
prepared to show that specific measures are available which
could have prevented the discharge, and that such measures were
not taken by the source.
A litigation report forwarded to Headquarters should include,
at a minimum:
1) The date and size of each relief valve discharge, including
those determined to be emergencies.
2) The Region's determination as to whether each discharge
is preventable, i.e., a violation.
3) An analysis of the cause of each discharge. Attachment 1
is an example of the technical evaluation of a company's discharges
which was included as an exhibit of a litigation report referred
4) A description of remedial measures designed to prevent
the types of discharges which have occurred at the plant. As you
can see from Attachment 1, this is a logical complement to the
analysis of the cause of each discharge.
5) A proposal for a minimum settlement penalty figure.
Attachment 2 contains the informal guideline which EPA HQ has
been using to derive a settlement penalty figure to assign to
relief valve discharges and to reporting violations. We would
appreciate your comments and suggestions, if any, of ways in
which these schemes can be improved.
Depending on the level of detail contained in the 10-day
report submitted by the company, the Region may have to keep more
information using a Section 114 letter to properly prepare the
litigation report. Examples of records which may be useful are
logs, written maintenance procedures, inspection manuals, incident
reports, employee records ( to show possible disciplinary action
or failure to take such action ), strip charts, etc. This is
potentially potent evidence, because it may reveal answers to such
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1) Was the company following its own standard operating
2) Did the company allow a discharge to occur in order to
preserve the integrity of the product and thereby save money?
( e.g., low grade resin is less profitable than high grade resin,
and this may affect operating decisions. )
3) Did the operator fail to recognize upset conditions?
4) Did the company fail to replace defective equipment
despite or prior history of problems?
5) Did the company fail to analyze a recurring problem?
6) Did the company perform an engineering study (or retain a
consultant to do so) and fail to adhere to the study's
Attachment 3 is a sample Section 114 letter which was used
to develop the litigation report in one of the cases referred to
This discussion has focused so far on enforcement of the
relief valve discharge standard. We are also concerned that the
Regions be consistent in enforcing other major provisions of the
vinyl chloride standard, such as the stripping and reactor opening
loss standards. As a legal matter, a single excursion of the
stripping or reactor opening loss requirement can form the basis
of an enforcement action. Because a single plant can process
thousands of batches each year, however, it becomes a policy
determination as to whether some level of violation will be viewed
as not warranting enforcement action. At this point, EPA HQ is
not prepared to give guidance on the appropriate threshold for
initiation of enforcement of these portions of the standard,
primarily because we have very little information on the level
of compliance throughout the industry and no history of
enforcement. One general observation applicable to these standards is
that, as with the relief valve discharge standard, the Agency should
strongly consider enforcement action if specific remedial measures can
be identified which will reduce or eliminate the noncompliance. Also,
the threshold for initiating the enforcement process, e.g., issuing a
Section 114 letter, should probably be less than for referring a civil
We request your help in developing guidelines for enforcement
of portions of the vinyl chloride standard other than the relief
valve discharge standard. Specifically, we would appreciate
suggestions as to factors which should be used to determine when
enforcement action should be initiated. We request, from each
Region, a summary for each source of the percentage and magnitude
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of violations of the stripping and reactor opening loss standards
shown in the two most recent semiannual reports. In addition,
Region I has indicated a need for the information listed in
Attachment 4. We feel that such information can be valuable to
the extent that it can be gathered from existing Agency records
without conducting plant inspections or issuing Section 114
letters. This information should be submitted to Richard Biondi
of the Stationary Source Compliance Division by July 29, 1983.
If you have any questions this memorandum, please
contact Elliott Gilberg of the Office of Enforcement Counsel (FTS
382-2864 or Mr. Biondi (FTS 382-2845).
NESHAP Contacts, Regions I-VI, IX
This Attachment contains confidential information.
It is available to EPA employees, who may request
a copy from Elliott Gilberg of the Air Enforcement
Division at FTS-382-2864.
PENALTIES FOR VINYL CHLORIDE RELIEF VALVE DISCHARGES
Penalty Assessed for Each Discharge
Pounds of Vinyl Chloride Released Penalty
0 - 1000 $ 1000 .
1 - 2000 2000 .
2 - 3000 3000 .
3 - 4000 4000 .
4 - 5000 5000 .
5 - 7500 10,000 .
7500 - 10,000 15,000 .
10 - 12,500 20,000 .
over 12,500 25,000 .
Other statutory bases for mitigation may apply -
e.g., economic impact of the penalty on the business.
PENALTIES FOR RELIEF VALVE DISCHARGES REPORTING VIOLATIONS
1) Failure to report discharges of 10 pounds or less:
2) Failure to report discharges greater than 10 pounds:
Discounts for reporting voluntarily ( i.e., not in
response to 114 letter ):
Within 6 months 80%
6-12 months 65%
12-24 months 50%
24 months 25%
Over 24 months 0%
Other statutory bases for mitigation may apply - e.g., the
economic impact of the penalty on the business.
MAY 20, 1980
Mr. William Wetzel
Hooker Chemical Company
P. O. Box 456
Burlington, New Jersey 08016
Re: Hooker Chemical Company
Burlington, New Jersey Plant
Dear Mr. Wetzel:
Section 114 of the Clean Air Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. Section
7414 ("the Act"), authorizes the EPA Administrator (or his duly
authorized delegate) to require the submittal of certain information
by emission sources to enable EPA to determine their status of
compliance with an applicable standard promulgated pursuant to Sections
111 or 112 of the Act and with any requirement of an implementation plan
pursuant to Section 110 of the Act.
Pursuant to Section 112 of the Act, regulations were promulgated at
40 CFR Section 61.60 et seq. for the control to vinyl chloride
emissions. These regulations, the National Emission Standard for Vinyl
Chloride, establish certain requirements which apply to plants which
produce polyvinyl chloride. More specifically, these regulations set
standards for relief valve discharges (40 CFR Section 61.65(a)), manual
vent valve discharges (40 CFR Section 61.64(a)(3)), manual venting of
gases (40 CFR Section 61.65(b)(5)), and equipment openings (40 CFR
As the owner/or operator of a polyvinyl chloride manufacturing
facility which is subject to the regulatory requirements of Section 112
of the Act, the Hooker Chemical Company, Ruco Division ("Hooker") is
hereby required, pursuant to the authority of Section 114 of the Act and
subject to the sanctions set out in Section 113 of the Act, to submit
the information called for in Attachment I concerning relief valve
dischargers, manual vent valve dischargers, and other releases of vinyl
chloride at its facility at River Road, Burlington, New Jersey.
This is to inform you that Hooker may, if it is so desires, assert
a business confidentiality claim covering all or part of the information
being requested. The claim may be asserted by placing on (or attaching
to) the information, at the time it is submitted to EPA, a cover sheet,
stamped or typed legend or other suitable form of notice employing
language such as "trade secret,"
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"proprietary," or "company confidential." Allegedly confidential
portions of otherwise non-confidential documents should clearly
identified by the business, and may be submitted separately to
facilitate identification and handling by EPA. If Hooker desires
confidential treatment only until a certain date or until the occurrence
of a certain event, the notice should so state. Information covered by
such claim will be disclosed by EPA only to the extent, and by means of
the procedures, set forth in Subpart B, Part 2, Chapter I of Title 40 of
the Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR 2.201 et seq.). If no such
claim accompanies the information when it is received by EPA, it may be
made available to the public by EPA without further notice to you.
This information must be submitted within 20 days from the receipt
of this letter to Kenneth Eng, Chief, Air & Environmental Applications
Section, Planning & Management Division, at this address. In addition,
any change in the information must be reported no later than 5 days
after such change occurs. This continuing requirement to provide
notification of changes in the information covered by this letter will
remain in effect until expressly terminated in writing by this office.
You may address any questions concerning this matter to Samuel P.
Moulthrop, Esq., Enforcement Division, telephone number (212) 264-1196).
Request for Information Pursuant to Section 114 of the Clean Air Act
1. Please list the dates of all relief valve discharges of vinyl
chloride monomer ("VCM") subsequent to October 21, 1978 at the Hooker
Chemical Company ("Hooker") polyvinyl chloride manufacturing facility at
Burlington, New Jersey (hereinafter "the plant") caused (solely or in
part) by premature failure of rupture disks, and for each such incident
provide the following information:
a. The length of time the rupture disk was in service prior to its
b. The manufacturer of the disk.
c. The type of disk (the material out of which the disk was made)
d. The corrective action taken immediately after the discharge in
order to prevent subsequent rupture disk failures.
2. By letter of August 14, 1979 from Raymond Abramowitz of Hooker to
Marcus Kantz of EPA Hooker reported that on the weekend of August 11
and 12, 1979 all rupture disks made of nickle at the plant were replaced
with rupture disks of nickel and teflon. Prior to August 11, 1979 how
frequently and on what basis were rupture disks replaced at the plant?
3. Subsequent to August 12, 1979 how frequently and on what basis are
(or will) rupture disks (be) replaced at the Plant?
4. On what date did the Hooker Chemical Company order the teflon and
nickle rupture disks which were substituted for the nickle rupture disks
on the weekend of August 11 and 12, 1979?
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5. Please state the name and positions of:
a. The Hooker officials or employees who made the decision to
replace the rupture disks on August 11 and 12, 1979.
b. The Hooker officials or employees whose recommendations or
opinions were relied upon to make the decision to replace
the rupture disks.
6. a. Please set forth the reason why the nickle rupture disk were
replace by the teflon and nickle rupture disks.
b. From what source did Hooker learn of these reasons?
c. On what date did the Hooker Chemical Company first learn of
7. a. Are the teflon and nickle rupture disks now being at the plant
more expensive than the nickle rupture disks previously used?
b. If so, how much more expensive are the teflon and nickle
rupture disks than the nickle rupture disks?
8. Why did Hooker not install the teflon and nickle rupture disks at
the plant prior to August 11, 1979?
9. Has Hooker used teflon and nickle rupture disks at any other plant
which it owns and which is subject to the requirements of 40 CFR
Sections 61.60 et seq.?
10. If the answer to Question #9 is yes, please state the name, type,
and location of each plant which has used such disks and indicate the
date on which teflon and nickel rupture disks were first used at each
11. At the Burlington plant does Hooker use degassing techniques to
control pressure surges in the prepolymerizers ("prepos") and postpoly
merizers ("popos") during reaction?
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12. If the answer to Question #11 is yes, please provide the following
a. Is the degassing a part of the monomer recovery process?
b. If so, describe the degassing procedures and methods including
the types of equipment used.
c. Is pressure released to surge tanks as part of the procedure?
d. If so, what is the capacity of each surge tank?
e. Is degassing automatic or manual?
f. On which polymerizers is degassing used?
13. In regard to the techniques Hooker employs to control or prevent
unexpected temperature and pressure rises in the prepos and popos:
a. Describe the general equipment and procedures used, including
the normal order of use.
b. Are chemical shortstops used?
c. If chemical shortstops are used, list them and briefly describe
why they are effective and the basis of their effectiveness.
d. If chemical shortstops are not used,
1. Describe the reasons, if any, why Hooker is prevented from
11. Describe the reasons, if any, why Hooker choose not to use
14. Please describe the steps which are taken immediately prior to the
following discharges of VCM in an effort to prevent them:
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a. The discharge from popo 3B on February 14, 1979?
b. The discharge from popo 4A on March 14, 1979?
c. The discharge from popo 3A on June 24, 1979?
15. In regard to February 14, 1979 discharge from popo 3B:
a. Why did Hooker charge an excess of initiator to the popo?
b. What steps were taken to insure that the proper amount of
initiator was used?
16. In regard to the March 14, 1979 discharge from popo 4A, what steps
were taken to insure that the experimental resin batch would not result
in uncontrollable pressure raises in the popo?
17. When experimental resins are to be produced at the plant, what
steps does Hooker now take to insure that the proper amount of
initiator is used?
18. By letter of February 26, 1979 from Raymond Abramowitz of Hooker to
Marcus Kantz of EPA Hooker reported that on February 19, 1979 500
gallons of vinyl chloride were released upon the opening of the outdoor
gas surge tank which feed the incinerator. In regard to this release:
a. What is the capacity of the surge tank?
b. Describe in detail the purpose and use of the tank.
c. When liquid normally collects in the tank:
1. What is its approximate composition?
11. Is it normally removed from the tank?
iii. If so, why is it removed from the tank?
iv. How is it normally removed? Is it removed to equipment,
process, etc., or is it normally released to the ground?
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d. Prior to the time of the release, had Hooker issued any written or
verbal instructions to appropriate personnel concerning these
e. If so, please describe the instructions and provide copies of any
f. Had the personnel who released the VCM received the instructions
g. If so, please state when and in what form (written or verbal).
h. Please state the name and position of the personnel who released
i. Did these persons follow their instructions in opening the tank?
j. If they did not follow instructions, why did they not do so?
k. Why did they open the tank, releasing the VCM?
l. What steps has Hooker taken to insure that such discharges do not
occur in the future?
m. Please state the names and positions of:
i. The Hooker employees who opened the outdoor gas surge tank.
11. The Hooker employees who supervised those doing so.
19. By letter of February 26, 1979 Hooker also reported that on
February 21, 1979 100 gallons of vinyl chloride were released from two
In regard to these releases:
a. The February 26, 1979 states that the scrubbers were vented to
allow them to be used to receive VCM flushes from the day
i. Was this done to clear the blockage in the feed lines
from the monomer recovery system and the day tank?
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ii. How many flushes were required to clear the blockage?
iii. Please supply a schematic diagram showing the flow lines,
valves, and directions of flow involved in this flushing
process and in normal use of the equipment ( including the
day tank, the scrubbers, the monomer recovery system,
b. What were the contents of the scrubbers at the time of the
c. What steps, if any, were taken to reduce the quantity of VCM
in the scrubbers before they were opened?
d. What steps has Hooker taken to prevent recurrence of a similar
e. Please state the names and positions of:
i. The Hooker employees who vented the two scrubbers.
ii. The Hooker employees who supervised these doing so.
20. By letter of May 7, 1979 from Harold Dubec of Hooker to Marcus
Kantz of EPA Hooker reported that on May 1, 1979 500 pounds of VCM were
released manually from a vent valve on popo 1C. In regard to these
a. Had the vent filter been cleaned on that day? If not, why
b. Had the degassing filter which precedes the vent filter been
cleaned and inspected after the previous batch? If not, why
c. If anything unusual resulted from the inspections and cleanings
described in a or b, above, please describe what occurred at
or was observed.
d. What steps had Hooker taken prior to this release in order to
prevent plugging of the vent filters?
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e. What steps has Hooker taken subsequent to this release to
prevent future releases due to plugging of the vent filters at
f. Please state the names and positions of
i. The Hooker personnel who manually vented the VCM.
ii. The Hooker personnel who supervised those doing so.
21. In the May 7, 1979 letter referred to in Question 20, Hooker stated
that written instructions had been given to all production supervision
at the plant that "manual vent valve are only to be sued in conditions
of emergency when rupture disk operation has failed to control reaction
a. Please provide a copy of these written instructions.
b. Do the instructions mean that manual vent valves are to be used
only after the rupture disk set pressure has been surpassed and
the disk has ruptured or failed to rupture? Please explain.
22. By letter of August 14, 1979 from Raymond Abramowitz of Hooker to
Marcus Kantz of EPA Hooker reported that it had taken certain steps to
prevent relief valve discharges. In paragraph #2 on page 2 of the
August 14, 1979 letter (Attachment I(A)) Hooker asserted that it had
increased its efforts "in the areas of inspection and maintenance."
Please described in detail those measures to which this paragraph
23. By letter of January 30, 1980 from Harold Dubec, Jr. of Hooker to
Marcus Kantz of EPA Hooker reported that on January 27, 1980 pounds of
VCM has been released manually from a vent valve on popo 4D. In regard
to this release:
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a. Did the supervisory and operating personnel follow the
procedures included in their instructions cited in Hooker's
May 7, 1979 letter to EPA described in Question #21?
b. Subsequent to the discharge what steps has Hooker taken to
prevent subsequent similar discharges?
24. By letter of February 7, 1980 from Harold Dubec, Jr. of Hooker to
Marcus Kantz of EPA Hooker reported that on February 1, 1980 4940 pounds
of VCM were released from the north rupture disks on popo 1A. In
regard to this discharge:
a. What steps did Hooker take to insure that the proper amount of
initiator was used in the affected batch prior to changing the
b. What steps has Hooker taken to prevent clogging of the pressure
transmission lines at the plant?
c. Please state the names and positions of Hooker personnel who
were operating popo 1A at the time of the discharge.
25. How frequently does Hooker plan to clean all pressure transmission
lines at the plant?
26. By letter of March 5, 1980 from Harold Dubec, Jr. of Hooker to
Marcus Kantz of EPA Hooker reported that on January 21, 1980 3000 pounds
of VCM manually released from popo 1D. In regard to this release:
a. Did the Hooker employees who were presented when the popo was
changed follow prescribed procedures for charging the popo?
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b. If the Hooker employee did not follow prescribed procedures,
which procedures were not followed and which person(s) failed
to follow the procedures? Please state each person's name
c. If the Hooker employees did follow prescribed procedures, have
the procedures been changed to prevent a future discharge for
the same or similar reasons?
d. If such procedures have been changed, describe how they have
27. In regard to the January 21, 1980 discharge from popo 1D:
a. Please state the name of the foreman who instructed the control
room operator to open the manual vent valves.
b. Please state the name of the control room operator who opened
the manual vent valves.
c. Why was this discharge not recorded in the log book kept in the
Control Room of the resin facility at the plant?
d. When did the control room operator first inform his
supervisors, other than the foremen, of the discharge?
e. Please state the name(s) and position(s) of the supervisor(s)
other than the foreman who the control room operator first
f. When did the foreman first inform his supervisors of the
g. Please state the name(s) and position(s) of the supervisor(s)
who the foreman first informed.
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h. When did the January 21, 1980 discharge first come to the attention
of Harold F. Dubec, Manager - Environmental Compliance, Hooker
i. Why did the control room operator and foreman delay in reporting
the discharge to their supervisors?
j. Prior to the January 21, 1980 discharge had Hooker instructed all 1
foreman and operators to report discharges immediately?
On what date(s) were these instructions given?
k. What steps has Hooker taken to insure that all future discharges are
Survey of Relief Valve and Manual Vent Valve Discharges
from PVC Plants
For each plant:
A. Equipment information
1. Number and size of reactors used (for each type of resin, if
2. Number of batches per year (for each type of resin, if known)
3. Age of plant
B. Discharge information
1. Number of discharges by year (1981 - 1983)
2. Size of each discharge
3. Frequency of three most common causes of discharges
for each plant (for each type of resin, if known) -
e.g., operator error, maintenance error, batch
thickening, overcharging the reactor, water or
VCM meter failure, power failure, premature rupture
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