Scranton Manufacturing has agreed to pay a fine of $50,208 because it failed to notify the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it was producing significant quantities of ignitable hazardous waste over the course of several years.
The company employs more than 200 people in Scranton, where it manufactures garbage trucks that are sold across the country and internationally.
Scranton Manufacturing uses a flammable solvent called methyl ethyl ketone in its painting process, said Jim Ober, vice president of operations.
As the company has grown in recent decades, so has its use of the solvent. Scranton Manufacturing uses a machine to recycle the solvent for further use, but when the machine falters, it causes a significant uptick in how much of the solvent is used and disposed of, Ober said.
In 1994, the company was considered a “very small quantity generator” of hazardous waste, according to Environment Protection Agency documents.
The agency launched a review of Scranton Manufacturing’s records in May 2020 and found that the company had been operating as a “large quantity generator” periodically since at least 2018. That means it was producing at least 2,200 pounds of the waste solvent per month.
“The company failed to prepare a contingency plan to respond to emergencies, failed to make arrangements with all local emergency responders in the event of a release or threat of a release of a hazardous waste, and failed to complete all staff training requirements,” the agency said in a press release. “Because the company failed to meet these requirements, it was operating as an unpermitted hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility.”
The agency said Scranton Manufacturing has agreed to comply with those requirements and pay the fine.
“It was a costly lesson for us,” Ober said, and he characterized the violation as an oversight. “It wasn’t like we were illegally dumping these chemicals.”
Scranton Manufacturing pays another company to dispose of the waste solvent.
The agency’s review began less than three months after a major fire at Scranton Manufacturing that was sparked by a faulty electrical connection in an area where the trucks are painted. Ober said the fire also damaged the recycling machine.
Firefighters used foam to extinguish the fire because they knew it was partly fueled by the solvent and other chemicals, Scranton Fire Chief Doug Duff said.