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By Mary E. Arata

DEVENS — Evergreen Solar, the solar panel manufacturer located on Barnum Road on Devens, sustained another hazardous material incident last week, its fourth in the last nine months.

While the leaked chemical sprayed the chin of a plant technician, he soon returned to work after being brought to a medical facility for evaluation. He was confirmed to have suffered no injury, according to a company official.

On June 25, the Devens Fire Department was called to the plant to find approximately 100 gallons of acid water had leaked from an air pollution control devise. Called a Nox scrubber, the device is meant to prevent the release of nitrogen oxide into the air. The leaked water solution consisted of 2 percent hydrofluoric acid. That equates to roughly two gallons of acid, or an amount greater than the 10-pound minimum reporting standard for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), according to Evergreen Solar spokesperson Christopher Lawson.

The company did notify the DEP, “in the spirit of cooperation with the agency,” according to Lawson. However, Lawson said, upon advice of their licensed site professional, Kenneth Snow, the company will move to retract the notification because “there was no release to the environment.” Evergreen reports the chemical was captured in a coated concrete containment system under the Nox scrubber; there was no migration of liquid into storm drains or containment pond.

Evergreen said the incident occurred as a plant technician, trying to fix a valve, removed insulation, breaking a plastic “sample port.” The break released the fluid, spraying the technician on the chin. Lawson reports the fix was completed, the employee washed the material off, but was brought to a hospital “as a precaution.” After being found to be injury free, the technician returned to work, according to Evergreen.

Lawson said, “please be assured we followed all appropriate federal, state and local environmental, health and safety reporting and clean up regulations.”

Devens Enterprise Commission Land Use Administrator Peter Lowitt confirmed that his office was notified of the incident by the state DEP on July 1, six days after the incident. The DEC has issued the plant a temporary certificate of occupancy, pending the resolution of noise complaints from neighbors in Harvard. Lowitt said, since there was no “release to the environment,” there was no need to notify the surrounding communities of the incident.

Mass Development spokesperson Meg Delorier said the Devens Fire Department, under Chief Thomas Garrity, has no ongoing concerns with the company.

“The Fire Chief, who is the MassDevelopment employee who oversees this aspect of this business, is very comfortable with Evergreen,” said Delorier, “They (Evergreen) are in constant contact with him — not just on reportable matters, but on general matters to keep the chief informed. He sees them as a great company. He has no concerns regarding any of the calls he’s attended at the facility.”

The spill appears to be the fourth significant hazardous material incident at the company in nine months.

* The first incident was a spill that occurred Oct. 15, 2008, when 500 gallons of a toxic ‘cocktail’ (including hydrofluoric, nitric and sulfuric acids) were released and ended up in a retention pond on the site.

* The second incident was a spill on Feb. 11, when 100 gallons of sodium hydroxide solution, released from an outdoor sump, made its away into storm drains on site.

* The third incident was a spill that occurred May 26, when there was a “sudden release” of 20 gallons of 30 percent hydrogen peroxide that was immediately thereafter cleaned up, according the state DEP reports.

The Devens plant is located within the town of Ayer drinking water aquifer protection district Zone II.