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Meat Processing Co. to Pay $26,000 to Settle Clean Air Act Case At New Hampshire Facility

Release Date: 08/11/04
Contact Information: Contact: David Deegan, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1017

For Immediate Release: August 11, 2004; Release # 04-08-06

BOSTON - Tyson Prepared Foods, Inc., a subsidiary of Tyson Foods, Inc., the world's largest processor and marketer of chicken and red meats, has agreed to pay $26,075 to settle claims by the U.S. EPA that it violated the Clean Air Act at its meat processing facility in Manchester, NH. In yesterday's settlement, Tyson Prepared Foods, Inc., agreed to pay the civil penalty without admitting or denying any of the violations alleged in EPA's June 29 complaint.

EPA's complaint alleged that Tyson Prepared Foods Inc. of Springdale, AR, failed to submit a timely and complete risk management plan at its Manchester facility, in violation of the Clean Air Act. The facility, now closed, used anhydrous ammonia as a refrigerant in its meat processing systems. Under the Clean Air Act, any facility containing more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, a regulated toxic substance, must submit a risk management plan assessing the hazards associated with using the chemical, implementing an accident prevention program, and outlining a plan for emergency response in the event of an accidental release.

According to the complaint, Tyson operated the facility without a risk management plan for over a month-and-a-half. The company eventually submitted a plan in mid-November 2001, but the plan 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 risked being unable to coordinate an effective response to an accidental release of anhydrous ammonia.

"In this era of heightened security concerns, companies need to know that EPA is serious about risk management plans. No facility using hazardous chemicals, especially one as common as anhydrous ammonia, should be operating without a plan," 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 Sept. 2001.

The food and beverage and agriculture industries constitute at least one third of all facilities subject to the risk management plan laws of the Clean Air Act.

Related Information:
Clean Air Act