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Thatcher Chemical Co. acknowledged that it did not have proper risk management plans in place and now has reached agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to pay fines and make improvements that will reduce air emissions at its Salt Lake City plant.

The EPA said Thursday the company will settle a series of alleged violations of the Clean Air Act for $181,428 that were discovered during two compliance inspections last year. The civil penalty is $12,500. The company also will spend about $168,928 on emissions-control equipment that will cut air-pollution releases to levels below what is allowed under its permits.

In addition, Thatcher is required under the settlement to improve maintenance and internal auditing of its hazardous chemical handling. It also must do a better job of documenting the training employees get for working with the chemicals.

"Companies that use chemicals and substances which pose a potential danger are responsible for having a robust risk management program in place," said Mike Gaydosh, head of EPA's enforcement program in Denver. "Failure to do so places the environment, employees, and the nearby community at risk."

EPA said risk management regulations are appropriate for Thatcher because it stores large quantities of "extremely hazardous" substances, such as ammonia, chlorine, and sulfur dioxide at the Salt Lake City plant. Without proper plans for handling this potentially dangerous material, more accidents are possible and the company is less prepared to deal with emergencies.

Calls to Thatcher for comment were not immediately returned.

Judy Fahys