Kansas City Blade Manufacturer to Pay Penalty for Alleged Violations of Environmental Law


LENEXA, KAN. (JULY 18, 2023) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will collect a $337,253 penalty from Oregon Tool Inc., a Kansas City, Missouri, manufacturer of steel lawn mower blades, to resolve alleged violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

According to EPA, Oregon Tool employs approximately 130 employees at its Kansas City facility and allowed hazardous, ignitable waste to accumulate on the floor, walls, ceiling, and equipment at the facility without determining the extent of the hazard nor maintaining the facility in a way that prevented the release of hazardous waste.

“Oregon Tool’s operations presented a significant risk to its workers and the surrounding community,” said David Cozad, director of EPA Region 7’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. “This settlement represents the federal government’s commitment to protect residents from harmful releases of hazardous substances, particularly in communities that are already overburdened by pollution.”

After EPA observed the facility’s conditions during a September 2022 inspection and notified the company about potential violations, the company proposed and completed a comprehensive cleanup of its facility that collected and removed 9,000 pounds of ignitable hazardous waste that had accumulated over time throughout the facility. Further, Oregon Tool agreed to install controls to prevent future hazardous waste releases.

This EPA inspection showed that Oregon Tool’s manufacturing processes resulted in the accumulation of spent sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate, and potassium nitrate mixture on the facility’s floor, walls, ceiling, and equipment. These substances are considered hazardous waste and could stimulate and accelerate combustion. Further, the EPA inspector observed that substances were being emitted from the facility’s ceiling vents.

Demographic and environmental data show that the Oregon Tool facility is in a largely low-income, Spanish-speaking area heavily burdened by pollution. EPA is strengthening enforcement in vulnerable communities to address disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of industrial operations on vulnerable populations.

RCRA creates the framework for the proper management of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste. Facilities that generate, store, transport, and/or dispose of hazardous waste must take precautions to prevent the release of that waste.

Learn more about the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

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