$75K Grant Awarded to Assist Anhydrous Ammonia Facilities in Missouri

EPA has awarded the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) a total of $75,000 to assist with outreach, education, and implementation of the Clean Air Act's Risk Management Program. All fertilizer facilities that handle, process, or store more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia are subject to EPA's chemical safety requirements.

"EPA is proud to award these funds, which will help to reduce accidental anhydrous ammonia releases," said William Rice, acting regional administrator. "The Risk Management Program was designed to prevent releases and protect the health and safety of area residents, employees at the facilities, emergency responders and the environment."

MDA will receive $30,000 to develop a program to conduct on-site audits and follow-up safety assessments at 189 agricultural retail anhydrous ammonia facilities in Missouri. SEMA will receive $45,000 to conduct workshops and on-site audits of 205 non-agricultural facilities. The SEMA grant focuses on enhancing communication among local first responders, planners, and all regulated facilities.

Anhydrous ammonia is a source of nitrogen fertilizer widely used for corn, milo, and wheat. It also is used as an industrial refrigerant. EPA notes that anhydrous ammonia is generally safe provided handling, operating, and maintenance procedures are followed but adds the chemical is nevertheless toxic and can be a health hazard. Inhaling anhydrous ammonia can cause lung irritation and severe respiratory injuries.

EPA added that its Region 7 receives more accidental release reports for ammonia than for any other chemical. In addition to releases caused by transportation accidents, human error, and equipment failure, a number have been caused by anhydrous ammonia thefts. It is a key ingredient in the illegal production of methamphetamine. When stolen, the toxic gas can be unintentionally released, causing injuries to emergency responders, law enforcement personnel, the public, and the criminals themselves.

Retailers were first required to be in compliance with the Risk Management Program in 1999. EPA then started facility inspections and enforcement of the program, which includes five components: hazard assessment system, management, accident prevention, emergency response, and submittal of a risk management plan. For more information, visit www.epa.gov/region07/toxics/arpp.htm. To view a video on anhydrous ammonia (formatted for Windows Media), go to http://progressive.powerstream.net/008/00136/media/R7wmv/Anhydrous/AH Press Release.wmv.

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