Risk Management Violations, Facility Refurbishment Cost Company $70,000

EPA announced that Washington state food company Borton & Sons Inc. has agreed to pay $16,746 for alleged federal Clean Air Act Risk Management Program (RMP) violations and spend at least $53,544 to implement a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP).

The company owns and operates a cold storage warehouse in Yakima, Wash., where it uses more than 10,000 lbs of anhydrous ammonia for refrigeration purposes. At that level of use, the Clean Air Act requires companies to implement an RMP. Specifically, Section 112(r) 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 a "Risk Management Program" and submit risk management plans. However, based on an inspection of the Yakima facility and follow-up information provided by the company, EPA found that for two years the facility lacked a prevention program to protect the public and the environment from off-site release of anhydrous ammonia, which is covered under the rule. EPA was particularly concerned about the lack of:

  • Safety information pertaining to the hazards of ammonia;
  • Procedures for identifying, evaluating, and controlling the hazards involved in the cold storage process;
  • Sufficient operating procedures and operator training; and
  • Documentation regarding process equipment maintenance.

EPA's RMP is designed to protect public health and the environment from accidental releases of harmful chemicals, like ammonia. "We can't take chances with public health," said Mike Bussell, Director of EPA's Office of Compliance & Enforcement in Seattle. "Preventing a release of something as potentially dangerous as anhydrous ammonia protects the lives of workers, responders, and nearby residents."

As part of the settlement with the EPA, Borton & Sons has corrected all alleged violations and agreed to spend at least $53,544 on implementing an SEP within the next twelve months. The SEP involves taking steps at its facility to reduce the risk of release of anhydrous ammonia from its pipes in its 1991 building. These steps include:

  • Removing Rubatex foam rubber insulation from the steel pipes which transport anhydrous ammonia to its refrigerated storage facility;
  • Replacing insulation with an insulation system that provides a better fit and more reliable moisture seal; and
  • Replacing any damaged, pitted, or rusted pipes.

For more information about EPA's RMP, go to http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/CLEANUP.NSF/sites/rmp. For more about toxic effects of anhydrous ammonia, see www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0028.html.

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