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EPA Seeks Penalty Against Middleboro, Mass. Company for Violating Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Requirements

Release Date: 07/11/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Sheryl Rosner (, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1865

For Immediate Release: July 11, 2005; Release # sr050703

The US Environmental Protection Agency filed a complaint against Northeast Refrigerated Terminals, Inc. last week, seeking penalties for violations of emergency preparedness and prevention requirements related to an incident involving a release of ammonia from the facility in April 2004. NERT owns refrigerated warehouses in Middleboro, Mass.

EPA's complaint cites an incident that occurred on April 18, 2004, when approximately 1,300 pounds of ammonia, over ten times the reportable quantity, were released from a faulty valve at the company's large warehouse facility.

NERT never notified the National Response Center of the release, a violation of hazardous materials laws that require those in charge of a facility to notify the NRC immediately upon learning of a significant release. No one was hurt in the incident, but the Middleboro Fire Department did temporarily evacuate many homes in the area.

The Complaint also alleges that the company failed to have in place a Risk Management Plan, which is required under the Clean Air Act for companies that store large amount of hazardous chemicals. Risk Management Plans provide a roadmap for preventative measures to minimize the possibility of a chemical accident.

Finally, EPA claims that the company failed to file appropriate hazardous chemical inventory documents that describe information on the nature, amount, location, and hazards of chemicals stored at the facility. These documents are important for first responders in the case of an accident.

"This case illustrates the importance of EPA's preventative and emergency planning requirements," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "This was a preventable incident that might not have occurred if NERT had a Risk Management Plan that called for conducting routine inspections and properly maintaining equipment."

The violations were discovered when EPA conducted an accident investigation after learning of the April 2004 incident.

EPA's Complaint cites violations of the Clean Air Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, and the Emergency Planning and Community-Right-to-Know Act. To learn more about some of these requirements, visit and click on "Chemical Preparedness and Prevention."

Related Information:
Office of Emergency Management
Emergencies & Emergency Planning & Preparedness
Clean Air Act