Funeral Industry News

Dodge Nailed with $400K Penalty, Stops Manufacturing Embalming Chemicals [UPDATED]

December 11, 2013

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Dodge Nailed with $400K Penalty, Stops Manufacturing Embalming Chemicals [UPDATED]

Please see update to this post here:

A supplier and former manufacturer of embalming chemicals, Dodge Company, has decided to close its Cambridge facility and to make safety improvements at its warehouses in Texas, Illinois and California under a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The settlement of the Billerica-based company addresses concerns identified by the EPA that procedures designed to prevent accidental releases of hazardous chemicals and to help protect first responders in the event of an accident were not adequately followed.

Dodge will pay a $400,000 penalty as a part of the settlement, and decided to stop manufacturing embalming chemicals.

According to the EPA’s complaint, Dodge failed to comply with the chemical risk management planning requirements of the Clear Air Act at four of its facilities in Cambridge, Mass., Fort Worth, Texas, Batavia, Ill., and Fontana, Calif.. The EPA also stipulated that Dodge failed to file chemical inventory reports by the federal Emergency Planning and Right-to-Know-Act, which provides information about a facility’s hazardous chemicals to emergency responders and the public, for its warehouse operations.

Dodge’s agreement with the EPA settles charges of 10 violations of the Clean Air Act at the Massachusetts facility, as well as one charge of violating the Clean Air Act and one charge of violating EPCRA at each of the other facilities.

“The company took numerous actions to come into compliance, although ultimately, they decided to close the Cambridge facility and outsource the manufacturing of embalming products to another company,” EPA spokesman Dave Deegan said in en email.

At the Cambridge facility, Dodge will assess all tanks for problems and make necessary changes, in addition to taking measures to reduce fire risks.

In addition, Dodge has taken steps to increase the safety of its other facilities, including conducting detailed process hazard analyses, developing new employee training programs and operating procedures, and conducting compliance audits.

The former Cambridge operation was located near a transit center, several businesses and a parkway. At the time of the violations, the facility blended, packaged, stored and sold embalming chemicals and other products needed for funerals. In the manufacture of embalming chemicals, Dodge used formaldehyde, a flammable chemical that can also form toxic gas, as well as flammable methanol and isopropanol.

Inspections of the Cambridge facility in January 2010 revealed that Dodge’s Cambridge facility had a potential for fire or explosion from a buildup of flammable vapor, from static discharge or improperly rated electrical equipment. Inspectors also found improperly maintained tanks and tank supports.

The EPA also found that Dodge’s risk management plan for the facility was not in compliance with most of their regulations and that Dodge hadn’t filed risk management plans for its warehousing operations. Dodge’s warehouses in Texas, Illinois and California did not have risk management plans until 2011.

However, the EPA said it has no knowledge of any chemical releases associated with any of the company’s facilities.

“Dodge Company takes safety measures extremely seriously, which is why we were happy to work cooperatively with the EPA to make sure that all of our facilities met their rigorous standards,” Nancy Sterling, a spokeswoman for Dodge, said in a statement. “Although many of the violations dealt with late paperwork filings, we currently have the right personnel in place to make certain that will not happen in the future. Our manufacturing is now contracted out so all of the issues raised have been addressed by the company.”