Solenis: No detectable hexavalent chromium released

Published 11:49 am Friday, June 9, 2017

No detectable levels of hexavalent chromium were released from the Solenis plant into the Nottoway River from October through December 2016 — the time period for which the plant, located just outside Franklin, was recently fined by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for failing to disclose its quantitative limit for the chemical.

This statement comes from Maggie Pagels, the plant’s environmental, health and safety manager. According to her, the plant sampled its wastewater discharge to test for the presence of hexavalent chromium on Nov. 8 last year, in compliance with the plant’s VPDES (Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit, which requires the company to test its discharge quarterly. That test returned a “non-detect” result.

On the monthly report for November 2016, however, the value “<QL,” which stands for “quantitative limit” was inadvertently entered instead of “<5ug/L,” which Pagels said is the correct value for Solenis’ quantitative limit.

A quantitative limit is the numerical measurement of a chemical’s presence in wastewater. According to John Brandt, the DEQ’s regional enforcement officer for the Western Tidewater area, Solenis’ VPDES permit does not specify a limit for hexavalent chromium in wastewater but requires that Solenis test for it quarterly. The value “<5ug/L” means that less than five micrograms per liter, which Pagels says in the lowest quantitative value that Solenis’ analytical test can detect. A microgram is one millionth of a gram.

Pagels added that the corrective action plan that Solenis recently sent to the DEQ includes an agreement with the subcontracted laboratory tasked with testing wastewater to set up testing that will provide more accurate results and comply with regulatory requirements.

“The Franklin site has been here since 1956,” Pagels said. “We pride ourselves on being an active member of the community, participating in the Riverkeepers, VMA, LEPC, City of Franklin Chamber of Commerce and Southampton Economic Development Committee.”