Cold Storage Warehouse Exposed Workers to Hazardous Gas: OSHA

Valley International Cold Storage has been fined $76,500.

Valley International Cold Storage of Harlingen, Texas, face 15 serious violations from OSHA related to its process safety management program for the maintenance and operation of an anhydrous ammonia refrigerant system to prevent potentially catastrophic release.

"Anhydrous ammonia can burn a worker's lungs, eyes, and skin, and those burns can be fatal," said Michael Rivera, OSHA's area director in Corpus Christi. "Unlike the household cleaner, this is a very concentrated and toxic form of ammonia that requires strict controls and handling procedures to keep workers from harm."

According to an OSHA news release, the violations include failing to inspect and test equipment intended to control and contain ammonia; failing to maintain process equipment in an acceptable working order; and not ensuring that process information is up to date and accurate. The company was also cited for failing to provide emergency eyewash, not having an audiometric testing program, and improper chemical storage.

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