EPA Protects Community's Right to Know About Chemical Hazards Through Settlement With Lawrence, Mass. Food Company
BOSTON (Nov. 7, 2023) – Under a recent settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a local food production manufacturer will be required to pay a penalty and fully comply with environmental community-right-to-know requirements regarding its use of anhydrous ammonia within its Lawrence, Mass. facility. Anhydrous ammonia has toxic properties, and this settlement further protects community members, employees, and the environment from the dangers of accidental chemical exposure by making emergency responders and planners aware of the presence of ammonia at the facility.
Artisan Chef Manufacturing, a specialty foods company located in Lawrence, Mass., has agreed to pay a penalty of $63,837 for violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and certify compliance with that statute. Artisan uses anhydrous ammonia in its Lawrence facility for refrigeration purposes. While an effective and efficient refrigerant, EPA regulates the chemical due to its hazardous nature. Anhydrous ammonia is corrosive to the skin, eyes, and lungs and can cause vomiting, blindness, or death.
"It's imperative that facilities that use, store or generate hazardous chemicals carefully follow EPA safety practices designed to notify communities and responders of the presence of those chemicals and prevent accidental situations and spills from happening," said EPA New England Regional Administrator, David W. Cash. "Carefully following chemical accident prevention and community notification regulations is necessary to safeguard workers and nearby communities. EPA works to protect all communities, including vulnerable populations who shoulder a disproportionate share of these risks. This settlement will result in accurate information being available to the community, which will enhance public safety."
EPA found that the company allegedly failed to file an EPCRA "Tier II" chemical inventory report for anhydrous ammonia for the 2020 and 2021 calendar years to the Local Emergency Planning Committee, the State Emergency Response Commission, and the local fire department. The company's failure to report put the local community and first responders at risk in the event of an accidental chemical release at the facility. EPA attempted to establish contact with the company several times. Artisan eventually filed its 2020 and 2021 Tier II reports in December of 2022.
EPCRA Tier II submissions are required to adequately inform local officials and responders of the presence of hazardous chemicals in the case of an emergency. This information is also available to the public, upon request, so that members of the public can be informed of the presence of hazardous chemicals in their communities.