Anhydrous Ammonia Release Lands Candy Company in SVEP

Russell Stover Candies Inc. faces $193,600 in penalties and has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program because of process safety management violations involved in an anhydrous ammonia release at its Iola, Kansas, plant on Sept. 23, 2015.

OSHA has cited Russell Stover Candies Inc. for three repeat, 14 serious, and two other-than-serious safety violations, issuing $193,600 in penalties March 31 and placing the candy company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program after investigating an anhydrous ammonia release at its Iola, Kansas, plant on Sept. 23, 2015. Investigators found an air-conditioning unit pipe failed and released about 22 pounds of anhydrous ammonia into the air, causing hundreds of workers to evacuate and shutting down the plant for more than two hours.

Fortunately, none of the workers was injured.

The violations involve OSHA's process safety management standards. "When highly hazardous chemicals are not properly controlled there is a potential for an accidental release at any time which could result in a tragedy," said Judy Freeman, OSHA's area director in Wichita. "Employers, such as Russell Stover, who use ammonia and other hazardous chemicals in their production process need to comply with recognized engineering practices, test equipment and train workers on safe operating procedures."

The company's headquarters are in Kansas City, Mo.

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