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EPA fines Yuma company $55,375 for reporting violations

Release Date: 3/29/2005
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, (415) 947-4248,

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently settled a case with a Yuma, Ariz. produce refrigeration facility that requires the company to pay $55,375 for violations of Clean Air Act and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know laws.

Semco South Cooling, LLC failed to report within three months of acquiring anhydrous ammonia, as required by law. The company also failed to submit by March 1 its annual report to the State Emergency Response Commission, the Local Emergency Planning Committee and the local fire department documenting that the company was storing 24,000 pounds of the chemical. In addition, Semco also failed to timely submit a risk management plan to the EPA.

"Facilities that store hazardous chemicals have a responsibility to develop and implement a risk management plan to prevent accidental releases, and to provide prompt and accurate information about the chemicals they are storing," said Keith Takata, the EPA's Superfund division director for the Pacific Southwest region. "Without this information, state and local emergency responders cannot be adequately prepared to protect our communities in the event of a chemical release."

A federal risk management program requires companies to prepare and implement written procedures to ensure that the risk posed by a chemical used, stored or produced at the facility are managed safely where quantities exceed a certain amount and there is a risk of off-site impact from a release.

Federal law requires that the owner or operator of a regulated facility annually submit by March 1 a complete hazardous chemical inventory to local and state authorities and to the local fire department when amounts exceed specific quantities.

Anhydrous ammonia is classified by the EPA as a hazardous chemical, and can cause severe burns from freezing and corrosion. Exposure to anhydrous ammonia may cause eye damage and ulceration on contact with lungs and skin.