MFA Incorporated and MFA Enterprises Incorporated, Settlement Information Sheet
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have entered into a consent decree with MFA Incorporated, headquartered in Columbia, Missouri, and its wholly owned subsidiary MFA Enterprises, Incorporated (collectively, “MFA”), to address alleged chemical accident prevention and preparedness violations under the Risk Management Program of the Clean Air Act. The alleged violations relate to the companies’ management of anhydrous ammonia at nine Missouri facilities, which have a combined inventory of more than 4.3 million pounds of the chemical. Under the settlement agreement, MFA will assure that its accident prevention program complies with all applicable Clean Air Act requirements, will install emergency shutoff equipment at 53 facilities, and will pay a civil monetary penalty of $850,000.
Overview of Company
Defendants are MFA Incorporated, headquartered in Columbia, Missouri, and MFA Enterprises, Incorporated (collectively, “MFA”), its wholly owned subsidiary. MFA is an agricultural cooperative that runs more than 140 retail farm supply centers, including 84 facilities within Missouri that store and distribute large amounts of anhydrous ammonia for use as fertilizer.
The Consent Decree addresses s numerous violations of the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program requirements (Section 112(r)(7), 42 U.S.C. § 7412(r)(7)) at nine MFA fertilizer distribution facilities. The case falls within EPA’s National Enforcement Initiative for Chemical Accident Risk Reduction. Among MFA’s most common alleged violations, it failed to: (1) implement procedures to maintain mechanical integrity; (2) recognize in the hazard review (an assessment aimed at identifying hazards associated with an accidental release of an extremely hazardous substance) and address, in a timely manner, all hazards of the process; (3) develop and implement written operating procedures that provide clear instructions for safely conducting activities; and (4) report accidental releases that injured MFA employees when submitting its risk management plans.
MFA must create and implement corporate policies and engineering specifications for the storage and handling of anhydrous ammonia and a corporate-wide inventory maintenance system. It must also inspect and remedy any problems found within certain parts of its process equipment. MFA must update the information it provides to EPA on accidental releases, and it must create and maintain a publicly available portion of its website listing accidents/releases that occur post-lodging. Finally, the Consent Decree requires that MFA hire an independent, third-party auditor to conduct RMP audits at 20 of its facilities to identify and correct any potential violations of its risk management program under the Clean Air Act.
MFA will install emergency electronic shutoff systems at no fewer than 53 of its facilities. The electronic shutoff systems must include emergency stop buttons, and a remote stop transmitter, which can be worn by an employee to reduce response time to a potential release. The systems are designed to close all shutoff valves and shut down liquid and vapor pumps facility-wide. The estimated cost to implement these systems is about $400,000.
The 9 facilities identified in the settlement have a combined inventory of 4,386,760 pounds of anhydrous ammonia on-site, and the compliance actions required by the Consent Decree will reduce the likelihood of releases of the ammonia stored at these facilities. Further, the extensive third-party audits at 20 facilities will help to eliminate the risk of future anhydrous ammonia releases. Lastly, the SEP at no fewer than 53 facilities will also reduce the risk of future releases.
MFA will be required to pay the monetary penalty of $850,000 within 30 days of the court's approval of the settlement.
The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comment is available at the Department of Justice website.