EPA Penalizes Potato Company for Failing to Report Ammonia Release

On July 2, 2009, the company's facility released approximately 300 pounds of anhydrous ammonia into the environment, according to the EPA settlement.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a $66,235 penalty against Oregon Potato Company for allegedly failing to report an anhydrous ammonia release at its facility in Warden, Wash.

On July 2, 2009, the facility released approximately 300 pounds of anhydrous ammonia into the environment, according to the EPA settlement. The facility produces dried and dehydrated frozen potato products.

According to Wally Moon, EPA preparedness and prevention unit manager in Seattle, these cases are about protecting workers, emergency responders, and the community.

“When unintended chemical releases occur, every minute counts if it is an emergency,” Moon said. “Emergency responders need to be notified promptly to react effectively.”

The leak occurred when a circuit breaker failed, causing a pressure relief valve to open, releasing the anhydrous ammonia. EPA alleges that Oregon Potato failed to immediately notify local and state agencies about the release. While no injuries were reported at the time of the incident, ammonia is a pungent, toxic gas that attacks skin, eyes, throat, and lungs and can cause serious injury or death.

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