Van Wyck explosives firm responds to local concerns

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Readers want to know if emergency plans are set

By Julie Graham

Editor’s note: The Lancaster News ran a story Aug. 16 on Dyno Nobel opening an explosives plant in Van Wyck. Readers responded with further questions on the emergency preparedness plans by the company, community and county.

Dyno Nobel, an international explosives manufacturer, remodeled and opened a plant on Steele Hill Road in June to produce an explosive used mostly in the mining and construction industry.

The 12-person plant mixes and ships about four tankers a day of emulsion containing the chemical compound ammonium nitrate to locations along the East Coast.

Company officials met with their Van Wyck neighbors at a community meeting shortly after opening to dispel concerns over operations and safety of the oxidizer they mix and truck out.

James C. Pullen, a retired chemical and environmental engineer who now lives in Sun City Carolina Lakes, points to the West, Texas, ammonium nitrate explosion that killed 15 people in April as to why key manufacturing data needs to be shared with local, state and federal agencies.

He believes an engineer competent in evaluating process hazards and risk management should be hired to review Dyno Nobel’s plans and report the findings to the community. 

Pullen has also raised concerns about transportation of the explosive from the plant as Dyno Nobel is located on Steele Hill Road, a secondary road known for its bumps and potholes.

“Tanker trucks will be loaded at the plant and travel on narrow two-lane roads through the community,” he said. “If there were a truck accident and spillage of a portion of the cargo, who would respond to the accident, and what measures would they take to contain the spilled chemicals and prevent harm to the town residents and the environment?” 

Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile said the company has done “everything needed to be in compliance with the law.”

“If something was to happen, I sure hope we would be prepared,” he said. 

His officers ride by the plant on patrol and the dispatch center would notify the community if an emergency occurred.

Dyno Nobel responds

Benita Rutherford, the Van Wyck plant manager, answered the following questions:

Q. Have you filed a risk management plan (RMP) with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the Van Wyck plant?

A. The Van Wyck facility would not fall under the RMP. This is for facilities generally covered under the Clean Air Act, and that have a Clean Air Title V permit to operate within the state where they reside. 

It is based upon toxic substances that could potentially be released to the air. The Van Wyck facility is regulated under EPCRA (Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act) and is required to complete and submit annual Tier II Chemical Inventory Reports to the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), and the local fire department with jurisdiction over the facility. 

This includes the submittal of updated site layout plan, and updated MSDSs (Material Safety Data Sheets) or SDSs (Safety Data Sheets) for the triggered threshold reporting substances manufactured, stored and used.

Q. Do you feel that Lancaster County is ready in case of emergency?

A. Yes, after working with the local Charlotte Road-Van Wyck Volunteer Fire Department, discussing the plant with the LEPC, giving a tour of the facility to a few of the Lancaster County sheriff’s officers, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and Explosives Special Agent Explosives Specialist, SLED (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division) Senior Special Agent, Chief Licensing and Permitting of the Office of the State Fire Marshal and Superintendent of Division of Fire and Life Safety South Carolina Fire Academy.

Q. Did you ask Lancaster County to implement the Reverse 911 call to neighbors if there was an emergency? Are Lancaster County sheriff’s officers regularly patrolling the plant?

A. Yes, I called, but it (Reverse 911) is not available yet. When it is available, we will be on the list. 

The Dyno Nobel Van Wyck facility is now on the nightly sheriff’s checklist.

Rutherford said the plant also intends to install a security system and post additional signs on the property that say “No Trespassing,” “Video Surveillance in Use on These Premises,” “Explosives Stored on Site – Do Not Fight Explosive Fires,” and “All Visitors MUST Register at Office.”