12 June 2013 23:05 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Wednesday it has reached a penalty settlement with two operators of a cold storage warehouse in Connecticut over the release of 5,000 pounds (2.3 tonnes) of ammonia in violation of the Clean Air Act.
Connecticut Freezers, Inc and Maritime International, Inc. have agreed to a $50,000 penalty and another $160,000 worth of environmental projects, which includes training for similar facility operators and emergency responders. The EPA said this action came about as a part of the agency’s renewed enforcement efforts to improve safety at ammonia refrigeration systems.
“It is very important for companies using hazardous chemicals to understand the risks associated with their use of such chemicals and maintain a safe operation,” said regional administrator Curt Spalding.
“We are optimistic that the trainings provided by this settlement will help companies manage their ammonia refrigeration systems more safely before EPA inspectors arrive or a release occurs that puts workers, the community, and emergency responders at risk,” he added.
The EPA said that in May 2011 corroded piping failed at the warehouse in New Haven, Connecticut, which caused the ammonia release. Following the accident the agency issued a compliance order to the two companies which forced the operations to undergo repairs and upgrade the facilities at an estimated cost of $100,000.
In September 2012, the EPA issued a penalty order that alleged the companies had not complied with provisions of the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention regulations as well as failed to report the release in a timely fashion to the appropriate national agencies. The order also claimed that emergency responders were not given timely notice.
In addition to the penalty, the settlement is requiring the companies to install a modern ammonia detection system that will be integrated with emergency controls that will shut down refrigeration equipment if it registers certain levels of ammonia. The operation is also required to hire a refrigeration expert to conduct training sessions.
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