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Shipyard pays for failure to report chemical use

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Monday a Tampa ship repair company failed to report that it was using toxic chemicals at the Port of Tampa.

International Ship Repair and Marine Services Inc. failed to submit forms disclosing that it used xylenes in 1992, the EPA said. Xylenes are clear liquid chemicals that are used as solvents. The EPA considers xylenes toxic because repeated exposures to the chemicals can cause damage to bone marrow, liver and kidneys, among other things.

International Ship uses the chemicals for its blasting and coating operations on vessels at the Port of Tampa, said William S. Russell, vice president for administration at International Ship.

The company has agreed to pay civil penalties of $3,500, according to the consent agreement with the EPA. International Ship's Russell said the company was happy to reach an agreement with the EPA, but he declined further comment on the matter. The company is now in compliance with the EPA rules on disclosure.

International Ship Repair is one of 42 companies nationwide that recently were fined a total of more than $2-million for not reporting the types and quantity of toxic chemicals they released into the environment. There were five Southeastern U.S. companies cited, including Classic Cultured Marble Inc. in West Palm Beach.

All of the 42 violations were discovered by surprise government inspections, not voluntary company disclosures, said Carl Terry, a spokesman for the EPA.

"These enforcement actions should be a wake-up call to other companies that are not complying with the reporting requirements," said Steven Herman, assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance.