Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Commitments and Contingent Liabilities

Commitments and Contingent Liabilities
3 Months Ended
Mar. 31, 2018
Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  
Commitments and Contingent Liabilities
16. Commitments and Contingent Liabilities:
There is a risk of environmental impact in chemical manufacturing operations. The Company’s environmental policies and practices are designed to ensure compliance with existing laws and regulations and to minimize the possibility of significant environmental impact. The Company is also subject to various other lawsuits and claims with respect to matters such as governmental regulations, labor and other actions arising out of the normal course of business. No accrual for these matters currently exists, with the exception of those listed below, because management believes that the liabilities resulting from such lawsuits and claims are not probable or reasonably estimable.
The Company triggered the requirement of New Jersey’s Industrial Site Recovery Act (“ISRA”) statute with the PQ Holdings stock transfer/corporate merger in December 2004. As required under ISRA, a General Information Notice with respect to the Company’s two New Jersey locations was filed with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) in December 2004 and again in July 2007. Based on an initial review of the facilities by the NJDEP in 2005, the Company estimated that $500 would be required for contamination assessment and removal work of one specific contaminant (polychlorinated biphenyls) that exceeded applicable NJDEP standards at these facilities, and had recorded a reserve for such amount as of December 31, 2005. During subsequent years, it was determined that additional assessment, removal and remediation work would be required and the reserve was increased to cover the estimated cost of such work. In addition, during this period, work had been performed and the reserve was reduced for actual costs incurred for the assessment and remediation work. Work at the Carlstadt facility has been completed and is closed from an ISRA standpoint, but as of March 31, 2018 and December 31, 2017, the Company has recorded a reserve of $837 and $842, respectively, for costs required for contamination assessment and removal work at Rahway. There may be additional costs related to the remediation of Rahway, but until further investigation takes place, the Company cannot reasonably estimate the amount of additional liability that may exist.
As part of a Delaware River Basin Commission (“DRBC”) required Pollutant Minimization Plan (“PMP”), in July 2013, the Company’s Chester facility conducted limited paint sampling for polychlorinated biphenyls (“PCBs”). Also, as part of demolition, repair and maintenance projects scheduled for the Company’s Baltimore facility in 2014, the Company conducted limited paint sampling during the fall of 2013 for waste categorization purposes. Paint samples were analyzed for PCB Aroclor 1254, the specific PCB congener commonly used in the manufacture of paint until the late 1970s. The Company’s analytical results indicated that PCB Aroclor 1254 is present in paint on some structures (e.g., piping, structural steel, tanks) in excess of the fifty (50) parts per million (“ppm”) regulatory threshold. Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”), there is no requirement to test in use paint for PCB content. However, once PCB content is identified at concentrations at or above the regulatory threshold, absent specific approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), the PCB-containing paint is regulated as an unauthorized use of PCBs, and the paint must be addressed. The Company abated painted surfaces that have tested positive for PCBs at levels exceeding 50 ppm at Baltimore in 2015 and early 2016. Similar abatement of painted structures as necessary at Chester have also been substantially completed. Characterization studies to evaluate whether soils have been impacted at Baltimore have been initiated as required under the TSCA, and have yet to commence at Chester. As of March 31, 2018 and December 31, 2017, the Company has recorded a reserve of $463 and $701, respectively, for the remediation costs of PCB impacted soils at the Company’s facilities.
In 2008, the Company sold the property of a manufacturing facility located in the United States to the local port authority. In 2009, the port authority commissioned an environmental investigation of portions of the property. In 2010, the port authority advised the Company of alleged soil and groundwater contamination on the property and alleged the Company liable for certain conditions. The Company received and reviewed the environmental investigation documentation and determined it may have liability with respect to some, but not all, of the alleged contamination. As of March 31, 2018 and December 31, 2017, the Company has recorded a reserve of $837 for costs related to this potential liability.
The Company has recorded a reserve of $1,183 and $1,245 as of March 31, 2018 and December 31, 2017, respectively, to address remaining subsurface remedial and wetlands/marsh management activities at the Company’s Martinez, CA site. Although currently a sulfuric acid regeneration plant, the site originally was operated by Mountain Copper Company (“Mococo”) as a copper smelter. Also, the site sold iron pyrite to various customers and allowed their customers to deposit waste iron pyrite cinder and slag on the site. The property is adjacent to Peyton Slough, where Mococo had a permitted discharge point from its process. In 1997, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (“RWQCB”) required characterization and remediation of Peyton Slough for Copper, Zinc and Acidic Soils. Various remediation activities were undertaken and completed, and the site has received final concurrence from the Army Corps with respect to the completed work. The RWQCB has agreed that Eco Services has achieved the goals for vegetative cover, but the current marsh condition is not sustainable without continued operation of the tide gates. The Company is continuing to work with the RWQCB on a plan to involve the County and work towards development of an alliance for operating, maintaining and funding the tide gates in the future.
As of March 31, 2018 and December 31, 2017, the Company has recorded a reserve of $1,183 and $1,220, respectively, for subsurface remediation and the Soil Vapor Extraction Project at the Company’s Dominguez, CA site. In the 1980s and 1990s, the EPA and the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board conducted investigations of the site due to historic chlorinated pesticide and chlorinated solvent use. Soil and groundwater beneath the site were impacted by chlorinated solvents and associated breakdown products, petroleum hydrocarbons, chlorinated pesticides and metals. A Corrective Measures Plan approved in October 2011 requires (1) soil vapor extraction (“SVE”) in affected areas, (2) covering of unpaved areas containing pesticide impacted soil, and (3) annual groundwater monitoring of the perched water-bearing zone. Installation of the SVE unit has been completed and startup has occurred. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (“DTSC”) has granted conditional approval of the Company’s soil management, and monitoring and maintenance plans. Most recently, the DTSC is requiring the Company to delineate the PCE plume on the eastern boundary of the site. The Company has submitted an action plan to address this matter and is awaiting comments from the DTSC.