Firm fined for ammonia safety violations

The operators of a food distribution facility in Springfield, Mass, has agreed to pay $184,717 and to comply with federal requirements in the use of its ammonia refrigeration system.

An EPA inspection of the Performance Food Group distribution warehouse in Springfield identified potentially unsafe conditions relating to the refrigeration process. This included a failure to file a risk management plan as required, based on its storage and handling of about 10,000lb (4,536kg) of anhydrous ammonia.

The facility has now developed and filed a risk management plan, and has worked quickly to come into compliance, says the EPA.

In the USA, risk management plans are required for all facilities using certain amounts of extremely hazardous substances, including anhydrous ammonia, in order to help emergency response personnel prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies. These regulations also require facilities to prevent chemical releases by designing and operating their chemical processes in a safe manner.

As part of the settlement agreement, Performance Food Group was required to certify that its nine other facilities in the USA are following industry standards for ammonia inventory calculations, and that it has filed risk management plans for those facilities that have over 10,000 pounds of ammonia in covered processes. In addition it has to review these facilities to ensure that bare minimum safety measures have been met at these facilities.

In the settlement agreement, Performance Food Group will pay $184,717 to settle claims that it violated Section 112® of the Clean Air Act in its handling of anhydrous ammonia and claims it violated the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act when it under-reported ammonia and failed to report lead contained in lead-acid batteries on forms known as Tier 2 Inventory Forms.