How Do ‘Accidents’ Happen? Here’s A Case in Point

How Do 'Accidents' Happen?  Here's A Case in Point

Action Manufacturing Co. of Bristol, Pa. has been fined $1.2 million and sentenced to five years of probation for storing explosive hazardous waste illegally at its facility in Atglen, Pa. District Court Judge Nita I. Quinones Alejandro also ordered an $800 special assessment.

According to an article by Lauren Hertzler in the Philadelphia Business Journal, Action Manufacturing reportedly admitted stockpiling the dangerous materials instead of sending them to an approved treatment, storage and disposal facility in accordance with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The materials stockpiled by Action are a product of the timing and arming devices for munitions and explosives which Action manufactures.

When civil inspectors from the Environmental Protection Agency's land and chemical division and the state Department of Environmental Protection inspected the Atglen site in November 2011 they found illegally stored waste "including scrap parts and components that were years or even decades overdue for disposal," according to a press release. The release also said Action Manufacturing admitted violating Department of Transportation record-keeping regulations for transporting explosive material on public roads.

Action's Atglen facility includes 75 buildings and eight magazines on 200 acres, according to the company's website, which indicated the company began manufacturing explosive devices in the early 1960s.

Action, which is said to be complying with a schedule for disposing ot the backlog of waste materials, has reportedly brought in a new president and CEO to replace the former executive.

If you wonder how hazardous materials can leak into and poison the nation's waterways or explode in railroad oil tankers, the Action Manufacturing episode is a perfect example of how such accidents can happen — and by good fortune and belated government action was avoided. But it makes you wonder how many other facilities like those of Action Manufacturing are out there — and may be near you.