Fruit Company to Spend $100,000+ Settling Risk Management Program Violations

The Jack Frost Fruit Company has agreed to pay $20,554 for an alleged violation of EPA's Risk Management Program requirements and spend at least an additional $85,000 within the next 12 months to implement safety improvements at its facility in Yakima, Wash., and purchase new communications and rescue equipment for local fire departments to improve the departments’ capabilities in responding to hazardous material emergencies. EPA found the company lacked a prevention program to protect the public and the environment from an off-site release of anhydrous ammonia.

EPA's Risk Management Program is designed to protect public health and the environment from accidental releases of harmful chemicals, said Edward Kowalski, Director of EPA’s Office of Compliance & Enforcement in Seattle. "We can't take chances with public health," Kowalski said. “Preventing an accidental release of dangerous chemicals protects the lives of workers, responders, and nearby residents."

According to EPA, Jack Frost uses more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia for refrigeration at its cold storage warehouse in Yakima. Under the law, any facility that uses, stores, manufactures, or handles more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia--one of the most potentially dangerous chemicals used in refrigeration and agriculture today--is required to prepare and submit a Risk Management Plan to EPA. The agency noted that few problems occur when the ammonia is being handled properly; but most accidents with anhydrous ammonia are due to uncontrolled or accidental releases.

Specific items required by the agency's 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.

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