Fruit Packer to Pay EPA $81,193 for Risk Management Violations

EPA announced Tuesday that Cascade View Fruit & Cold Storage LLC has agreed to pay $81,193 for allegedly violating the federal Clean Air Act 112(r) Risk Management Program. The alleged violation occurred when Cascade Views' cold storage warehouse located in Yakima, Wash., exceeded the RMP threshold quantity of anhydrous ammonia in November of 2004. According to EPA, the company's fruit packing facility uses anhydrous ammonia for refrigeration purposes, and the violations have since been corrected.

On July 10, 2007, EPA sent Cascade View a request for information as authorized under Section 114 of the CAA. The company's response indicated its current level in November of 2004 exceeded 23,000 pounds, which required Cascade View to implement an RMP and submit a risk management plan. EPA found that the facility lacked a prevention program to protect the public and the environment from an off-site release of anhydrous ammonia.

"The RMP is designed to protect public health and the environment from accidental releases of harmful chemicals," said Javier Morales, EPA's RMP Coordinator in Seattle. "Cascade View's failure to have a RMP could place workers at their cold storage facility, as well as the surrounding community, at risk."

Specific items required by the Risk Management Program include:

  • development of an emergency response or action plan;
  • hazard evaluation of a "worst case and more probable case" chemical release;
  • operator training;
  • review of the hazards associated with using toxic or flammable substances; and
  • operating procedures and equipment maintenance.

Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act requires all public and private facilities that manufacture, process, use, store, or otherwise handle greater than a threshold amount of a regulated substance(s) to develop risk management programs and submit risk management plans. Toxic chemicals, such as ammonia and chlorine, are covered by the program. EPA noted that anhydrous ammonia is one of the most dangerous chemicals used in refrigeration and agriculture today. It is used and stored under high pressure, which requires specially designed and well-maintained equipment. Those who work with anhydrous ammonia must be trained to follow exact handling procedures. The primary causes of uncontrolled releases are improper handling procedures, careless or untrained workers, or faulty equipment, EPA said.

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