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Meat Processing Plant Faces Civil Penalties for Inadequate Risk Management Planning at Manchester, N.H., Facility

Release Date: 07/14/04
Contact Information: Contact: David Deegan, 617-918-1017

For Immediate Release: July 14, 2004; Release # 04-07-15
BOSTON – An enforcement action has been filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency against Tyson Foods, Inc., for violations of the Clean Air Act at a meat processing facility in Manchester, N.H. EPA is seeking a civil penalty of $35,387.

Tyson Foods has owned the Manchester facility since Sept. 2001. The facility, which Tyson Foods closed in Feb. 2004, used anhydrous ammonia as a refrigerant in its meat processing systems. Anhydrous ammonia is a regulated toxic substance under various federal environmental statutes and is considered extremely hazardous under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act.

Under the Clean Air Act, any facility containing more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia is required to submit a Risk Management Plan (RMP) to EPA that assesses the hazards associated with using the chemical, implements an accident prevention program, and outlines a plan for emergency response in the event of an accidental release.

The enforcement action cites Tyson Foods for failing to submit a timely and complete RMP for the Manchester facility, in violation of the Clean Air Act. The RMP eventually submitted to EPA significantly underestimated the off-site consequences of a worst-case release of anhydrous ammonia and contained piping and instrumentation diagrams that lacked sufficient detail about critical components of the refrigeration system. Consequently, Tyson Foods risked being unable to coordinate an effective response to an accidental release of anhydrous ammonia.

“In this era of heightened security concerns, it is imperative that facilities managing and using hazardous materials do so with vigilant attention to all legal and safety requirements,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.

While under the ownership of Jac Pac Foods, the Manchester facility had an accidental release of anhydrous ammonia on July 11, 2000, which triggered a significant emergency response operation and resulted in the treatment of two employees for exposure to ammonia fumes. Jac Pac Foods failed to report the release immediately to the National Response Center. Tyson was aware of this history when it acquired the Manchester facility in September 2001.

Related Information:
Air Enforcement
Clean Air Act
Risk Management Assistance/Enforcment