Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know (EPCRA): Agriculture-Related Enforcement Cases
The following are agriculture-related enforcement cases pertaining to the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA).
- December 10, 2007: EPA, Farmers Cooperative Agree on Emergency Notification Violations
- September 27, 2007: EPA Proposes Penalty for Milk Plant in Maryland
- August 31, 2007: Chemical Spill Reporting Violations: EPA Settles Illinois, Wisconsin Cases
- June 26, 2007: Chemical Spill Reporting Violations: EPA Settles Indiana, Michigan and Ohio Cases
- October 14, 2004: EPA Seeks Penalty of $46,000 From Food Company with Facility in Ellington, Conn.
- July 14, 2004: Meat Processing Plant Faces Civil Penalties for Inadequate Risk Management Planning at Manchester, N.H., Facility
- April 15, 2004: Multistar Industries Named in Complaint for Clean Air Act and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act Violations
- October 12, 2001: World's Largest Meatpacker Reaches Agreement With U.S. To Resolve Environmental Problems Throughout Midwest
- April 5, 2001: EPA Settles With Packing Company
- March 19, 1999: Chemical Reporting Penalty for Virginia Meat Plant
December 10, 2007
Farmers Cooperative Agree on Emergency Notification Violations
The Farmers Union Cooperative Association in Gretna, Neb., will purchase emergency response equipment valued at more than $27,000 for the Gretna Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, and will pay a $5,650 penalty as settlement for violations occurring after an anhydrous ammonia spill in April 2006. EPA Region 7 and the cooperative, an anhydrous ammonia dealer in Gretna, have agreed to a settlement of violations of EPA's emergency notification laws. The cooperative failed to immediately notify emergency responders after a release of 3,880 pounds of anhydrous ammonia to the air.
The release occurred at the intersection of Highways 91 and 31 outside Elkhorn, Neb., as a result of a car accident involving a nurse tank being towed behind a cooperative-owned pickup truck. The release required shutting down both highways and evacuation of nearby homes. The first emergency responders on the scene had been notified of the accident, but were unaware of the hazardous chemical release, thus putting them at risk for exposure. The Elkhorn and Waterloo fire departments, Douglas County Sheriff, Nebraska State Patrol, Nebraska Department of Transportation, and Omaha Fire Department HazMat Team responded to the accident.
The cooperative willingly negotiated with EPA to settle the case in a way that will have long term benefits for the community. The emergency response equipment the cooperative will purchase for the Gretna fire department will help protect both the emergency responders and the public from harm in the event of a hazardous substance release. Anhydrous ammonia is used widely and in large quantities for a variety of purposes. More than 80 percent of the ammonia produced in the United States is used for agricultural purposes. It is generally safe, provided that handling, operating, and maintenance procedures are followed. However, it is toxic and can be a health hazard. It is very corrosive, and exposure to it might result in chemical-type burns to skin, eyes, and lungs. Effects of inhalation of anhydrous ammonia range from headaches, nausea, and lung irritation to severe respiratory injuries.
September 27, 2007
EPA Proposes Penalty for Milk Plant in Maryland
EPA has proposed a $282,871 penalty against the operators of a milk processing plant in Laurel, Md., for failing to report an accidental release of at least 400 pounds of ammonia from the plant’s refrigeration system in July 2006. EPA alleges that Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Inc., which owns and operates the Laurel plant, violated federal requirements for hazardous chemical reporting when it failed to immediately report the ammonia release to local, state and federal emergency management agencies. The accidental release occurred while conducting maintenance on the plant’s refrigeration compressors. The milk cooperative also failed to provide follow-up reports to state and local emergency officials. EPA regulations require companies nationwide to immediately report releases of reportable quantities of hazardous substances to the National Response Center (NRC), the State Emergency Planning Commission (SERC) and the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). The reportable quantity for ammonia is 100 pounds. The NRC, staffed by the U.S. Coast Guard, is the national point of contact for reporting oil and hazardous chemical spills. In Maryland, companies are required to report incidents to the state Department of the Environment. The release in Laurel should also have been reported to the Howard County office of emergency management.
Subsequent to the ammonia release, EPA conducted an inspection and determined that the facility had not complied with emergency preparedness and community right-to-know requirements, which help employees, local fire, police and emergency responders prepare for and respond to chemical incidents. The milk facility had not submitted a risk management plan to EPA that would have included a hazard assessment, a prevention program and an emergency response program. These reporting and planning requirements are important to protecting public health and the environment. Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association Inc., headquartered in Reston, Va., markets milk for its estimated 1,500 dairy farmers throughout the mid-Atlantic and southeast regions of the United States. The cooperative has the right to a hearing to contest EPA’s alleged violations and proposed penalty.
August 31, 2007
Chemical Spill Reporting Violations: EPA Settles Illinois, Wisconsin Cases
EPA Region 5 settled administrative cases involving hazardous chemical release reporting violations in Chicago, Ill., and Fort Atkinson and Kansasville, Wis. All three cases involved anhydrous ammonia, which is commonly used in commercial refrigeration systems and as fertilizer. The chemical causes burns to the skin and irritation to the eyes, nose and throat and may be fatal if inhaled for long periods of time. Anhydrous ammonia releases greater than 100 pounds must be immediately reported. Federal law requires immediate notification to the National Response Center for chemical releases above certain thresholds. The NRC activates the appropriate response authorities. Responders need to know what they are dealing with so they can take steps to protect people living and working in the area.
C.G. & S. Provision Company Inc., 159 N. Carpenter St., Chicago, paid $27,000 to resolve EPA's complaint for failure to provide immediate notification to the NRC and state and local emergency response commissions of a 600-pound release of anhydrous ammonia. The release from the facility's refrigeration system was six times the reportable quantity and was reported late. Follow-up reports were also late.
Conserv FS Inc., 4304 S. Beaumont Ave., Kansasville, Wis., paid $20,956 to resolve EPA's complaint for failure to provide immediate notification to the NRC and state and local emergency response commissions of a 1,055-pound release of anhydrous ammonia. The release, from a leaking valve on an ammonia tank was reported late. Follow-up reports were not submitted.
Jones Dairy Farm Inc., 808 Jones Ave., Ft. Atkinson, Wis., paid a $36,060 penalty and will perform an environmental project to resolve EPA's complaint for failure to provide immediate notification to NRC and state emergency response commissions of a 2,805-pound anhydrous ammonia release. A broken valve caused the release of 28 times the reportable quantity. Low levels of ammonia were detected in surrounding neighborhoods causing authorities to shut down state Highway 26 and require local residents to stay inside. Follow-up reports were also late.
June 26, 2007
Chemical Spill Reporting Violations: EPA Settles Indiana, Michigan and Ohio Cases
EPA Region 5 recently settled administrative cases involving hazardous chemical release reporting violations in Rensselaer, Ind., Remus, Mich., and Mark Center, Ohio. All three cases involved anhydrous ammonia, which is commonly used in commercial refrigeration systems and as fertilizer. The chemical causes burns to the skin and irritation to the eyes, nose and throat and may be fatal if inhaled for long periods of time. Anhydrous ammonia releases greater than 100 pounds must be immediately reported. Federal law requires immediate notification to the National Response Center for chemical releases above certain thresholds. The NRC activates the appropriate response authorities. Responders need to know what they're dealing with so they can take steps to protect people living and working in the area.
AgroKey LLC, 832 N. 900 W., Rensselaer, Ind., paid $37,623 to resolve EPA's enforcement action for failure to provide immediate notification to the NRC of a 4,220-pound release of anhydrous ammonia May 9, 2005. A required follow-up report was also filed late, eight days after the incident, and only included four of the ten required elements. The release was caused by an attempted theft from a 1,000 gallon transport wagon. AgroKey voluntarily purchased and installed 459 valve locks on all the tanks at all of its facilities.
Leprino Foods Co., 311 N. Sheridan Road, Remus, Mich., paid $29,250 to resolve EPA's enforcement action for failure to provide immediate notification to the NRC and the Michigan Emergency Response Commission of a 1,308-pound release of anhydrous ammonia June 16, 2006. The release, from a pressure relief valve on the refrigeration system, was reported four days after the release.
Hicksville Grain Co., 9585 Main St., Mark Center, Ohio, will complete a $26,407 environmental project to resolve EPA's enforcement action for failure to provide immediate notification to the NRC and state and local emergency response commissions of a release of 4,771 pounds of anhydrous ammonia March 16, 2005. The release, reported five hours after the release was caused by an attempted theft from a tank. Follow-up reports were also late.
April 5, 2001EPA Settles With Packing Company
EPA settled an administrative complaint with J.H. Routh Packing Company in Sandusky, Ohio, for violation of federal laws on the reporting of hazardous chemical releases. The company will pay a civil penalty totaling $21,369 and spend $34,210 on an environmental project. EPA alleged that on October 12, 1999, the facility failed to promptly report a 1,600-pound release of anhydrous ammonia from a refrigeration system inside an unmanned building. Federal laws require facilities to immediately notify the National Response Center (NRC), the state emergency response commission, and the local emergency planning committee about any anhydrous ammonia release above 100 pounds.
In addition to the late reporting of this incident, the company failed to submit the Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory form for anhydrous ammonia for this facility to the state and local authorities from 1996 to 1998. Federal laws require reporting of onsite anhydrous ammonia above 500 pounds by March one every year.
The civil penalty includes a payment of $18,630 to the U.S. Treasury (for not reporting on-site chemicals and late reporting of the release to the state and local authorities under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act) and $2,738 to EPA's Superfund hazardous waste cleanup program (for late reporting of the release under the Superfund statute). The company will also purchase self-contained breathing apparatus equipment valued at $34,210 for the Margaretta Township Fire Department. Anhydrous ammonia may be fatal if inhaled for prolonged periods of time, causes burns to the skin and eyes, and may cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat.
March 19, 1999Chemical Reporting Penalty for Virginia Meat Plant
EPA announced that Valley Proteins, Inc. has agreed to pay a $24,900 penalty for failing to report storage of hazardous chemicals at its Emporia, VA meat processing plant. This agreement settles a September 1998 EPA complaint against the company. Failing to report the storage of hazardous chemicals is a violation of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act which protects the public and environment from accidental spills, fires and explosions. The law requires companies that store over a threshold quantity of hazardous chemicals to file "material safety data sheets" (MSDS), or list of chemicals requiring MSDSs, with the state and local emergency response agency and the local fire department. The MSDS describes the health risks associated with the chemical and safety precautions for handling or accidental exposure. The act also requires companies to annually update state and local emergency response agencies and the local fire department on the hazardous chemicals present at the facility.
Valley Proteins renders slaughterhouse and other meat processing byproducts to produce protein meal and fat for use as poultry and hog feed. According to EPA, Valley Protein failed to submit required reports for its storage of approximately 29,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil, 2,630 gallons of low sulfur diesel fuel, 5,120 gallons of sodium chlorite, 1,875 gallons of aluminum chloride, and 60 gallons of chlorine. These violations occurred in 1994, 1995 and 1996. EPA originally proposed a $41,500 penalty for these violations. The reduced settlement penalty reflects the company's cooperation with EPA and prompt correction of the alleged violations.