NEWBURYPORT – The company where a series of explosions Thursday morning forced the evacuation of nearby buildings has a lengthy track record of safety and hazardous waste violations, according to at least two federal agencies.
In 2015, PCI Synthesis was fined $4,950 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for a violation involving 23 people. It was classified as "serious" by the federal safety agency. The fine was reduced to $2,970 after the company filed an appeal, according to OSHA.
A decade earlier, in 2006, the federal Environmental Protection Agency accused PCI Synthesis, known then as Polycarbon Industries Inc., of violating numerous requirements of federal and state hazardous waste laws.
The violations included failure to conduct personnel training, failure to separate incompatible wastes, and failure to comply with tank and air emission standards. The last violation could have resulted in potentially hazardous air emissions, according to an EPA press release.
More recently, in 2019, PCI paid the EPA more than $200,000 after a 2017 inspection of the plant showed that it was violating federal and state hazardous waste laws. PCI agreed to pay a $50,210 fine and spend $152,000 in projects that will protect human health and the environment.
The most significant violations included failing to comply with regulations designed to prevent releases of hazardous waste for four hazardous waste tanks. It also failed to comply with hazardous waste air emission standards for those tanks, and equipment came into contact with the waste, according to the EPA.
To settle the charges, PCI agreed to buy and operate a system to monitor emissions of hazardous waste and other gas emissions in the manufacturing and laboratory areas of its facility. The company also agreed to plant 63 trees in Newburyport to reduce air pollution in the area, the EPA said in a press release.
No one answered the phone when a reporter called PCI for comment Thursday morning.