RICHMOND — The aerospace company Orbital Sciences Corp. has agreed to pay a penalty of nearly $100,000 for state waste violations at its satellite design and manufacturing site in Northern Virginia, officials said Friday.
The case is not related to the Tuesday explosion of one of the company's unmanned rockets at Wallops Island on Virginia's Eastern Shore.
"This [waste case] is completely coincidental," said Sarah Baker, enforcement manager for the state Department of Environmental Quality's Northern Virginia regional office.
The violations were found during a routine DEQ inspection Jan. 13 of the Orbital site at Dulles in Loudoun County, Baker said.
The issues included improper labeling and storage of hazardous wastes such as waste paints and batteries, and a lack of evidence that the staff at Orbital's site had been trained to handle some hazardous wastes, according to the DEQ.
The $99,715 civil penalty "is based n the potential for harm," Baker said. No one was injured because of the violations, she said.
"All of these issues have been resolved," Baker added.
Among the violations:
» Drums in the site's waste storage area had no markings to indicate that hazardous waste was being stored.
» A 55-gallon drum of paint waste was not labeled and had an open top. Such containers should be closed except when adding or removing waste.
» The Orbital staff could provide no documentation that it conducted weekly inspections of hazardous-waste storage areas.
» A lead acid battery was found upside down, with a split in its case and "an uncontained release" beneath it.
» Orbital did not provide evidence that its staff had been provided training for dealing with certain hazardous wastes.
Orbital has entered into a proposed consent order, or legal agreement, with the state Waste Management Board, for which the DEQ serves as staff.
A one-month public comment period on the proposed order began Thursday. Unless the order is changed as a result of the comments, the DEQ can put the order into effect after the comment period closes.
Orbital did not return calls and emails by early Friday evening.
Orbital develops and makes small and medium-size rockets, satellites and other spacecraft for government and business clients.
An Orbital rocket, which was supposed to carry supplies to the International Space Station, exploded Tuesday night just after lift-off. No injuries were reported, but the incident is under investigation.