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EPA Reaches Settlement With Frontier Ag Inc. for Alleged Clean Air Act Violations in Kansas

01/27/2020
Contact Information: 
Ben Washburn (washburn.ben@epa.gov)
913-551-7364

Environmental News
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

EPA seal(Lenexa, Kan., Jan. 27, 2020) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a settlement with Frontier Ag Inc. to resolve alleged violations of federal Clean Air Act regulations. The settlement includes three ammonia fertilizer facilities owned by the company in Kansas, two in Bird City and one in Menlo.

At the time of EPA inspections in June and October 2018, each facility contained over 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, making them subject to Risk Management Program regulations intended to protect communities from accidental releases of hazardous substances.

Anhydrous ammonia presents a significant health hazard because it is corrosive to the skin, eyes and lungs. Exposure may result in injury or death.

During the inspections, EPA determined that Frontier Ag Inc. failed to submit, implement and update risk management plans for the release of anhydrous ammonia; failed to ensure that the facilities’ processes for handling anhydrous ammonia were designed in compliance with good engineering practices; failed to perform required tests and inspect processing equipment at the facilities; and failed to update required documentation.

In response to the inspection findings, Frontier Ag Inc. took the necessary steps to return all three facilities to compliance.

Under the terms of the settlement, Frontier Ag Inc. has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $71,652. In addition to achieving regulatory compliance, the company also agreed to complete a project designed to enhance safety at six of its ammonia fertilizer facilities by installing emergency shutoff valves and emergency stop buttons. Frontier Ag Inc. estimates the project will cost at least $55,000.

EPA has found that many regulated facilities are not adequately managing the risks they pose or ensuring the safety of their facilities in a way that is sufficient to protect surrounding communities. Approximately 150 catastrophic accidents occur per year among the universe of regulated facilities. These accidents result in fatalities, injuries, significant property damage, evacuations, sheltering in place, or environmental damage. Many more accidents with lesser effects also occur, demonstrating a clear risk posed by these facilities.

Reducing risks from accidental releases of hazardous substances at industrial and chemical facilities is a top priority for EPA. EPA identified this goal as one of seven National Compliance Initiatives in 2019.

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