EPA Settlement with Londonderry, New Hampshire Company to Improve Compliance to Help Prevent Chemical Accidents
Londonderry, N.H. – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with a New Hampshire company, Londonderry Freezer Warehouse, LLC, of Londonderry, for alleged violations of chemical accident prevention related to the use of anhydrous ammonia in refrigeration and cooling units. Londonderry Freezer Warehouse has spent more than $215,000 to bring its facility back into compliance with Clean Air Act (CAA) requirements that apply to ammonia refrigeration systems that have less than 10,000 pounds of ammonia. Londonderry Freezer Warehouse has paid $78,200 to resolve the alleged violations.
"This settlement reflects EPA's commitment to protect New Englanders from exposures to hazardous chemicals in the places where they live and work," said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. "This agreement will improve Londonderry Freezer Warehouse's compliance with important laws that help protect communities."
EPA alleged that Londonderry Freezer Warehouse, which operates a cold storage facility, had inadequate alarms, rusted valves, inadequate ventilation, and insufficient access to emergency controls, among other alleged deficiencies. The company fully cooperated with EPA's New England regional office and has certified that they are now in compliance with the Clean Air Act.
EPA pursued this matter and other similar cases to ensure that the anhydrous ammonia used at facilities for refrigeration is properly managed to protect the safety of workers, emergency responders, and the surrounding community and to obtain a penalty for past violations.
Anhydrous ammonia is an efficient but toxic refrigerant. EPA is working to prevent ammonia releases from industrial refrigeration systems by helping companies comply, enforcing violations of chemical accident prevention and reporting laws and hosting workshops to help emergency responders safely address ammonia leaks.
Anhydrous ammonia is used at a variety of businesses, such as cold storage warehouses, food processing, dairies, ice makers, and skating rinks. It does not deplete the ozone layer as some other refrigerants do, but ammonia has some dangerous properties and must be handled with care. The chemical is highly corrosive, and inhaling ammonia gas can be fatal. It is also flammable at certain concentrations in the air.
The goal of the Section 112(r) of the CAA is to prevent accidental releases of substances that can cause serious harm to the public and the environment. Facilities that fail to comply with Section 112(r) put facility personnel, employees of adjacent businesses, emergency responders, and the local population and environment at risk of harm from such accidental releases. These settlements are part of an EPA National Compliance Initiative to reduce risk to human health and the environment by preventing chemical accidents.
To read more about this initiative: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/national-compliance-initiative-reducing-accidental-releases-industrial-and-chemical
For ammonia refrigeration facilities in New England that use fewer than 10,000 pounds of ammonia, EPA Region 1 is working to improve compliance with the Clean Air Act General Duty Clause requirement to identify hazards that may result from accidental releases using appropriate hazard assessment techniques. After publicizing this compliance effort, EPA has begun issuing information requests to certain facilities to learn whether they have performed a process hazard review. If a company has not, EPA will offer to resolve that violation with an expedited settlement agreement that includes a reduced penalty if the company completes a process hazard review with assistance from a third-party expert and meets with emergency responders to plan for a potential release from the facility.
- EPA information on the General Duty Clause requirements of Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act: https://www.epa.gov/rmp/general-duty-clause-under-clean-air-act-section-112r1
- EPA information on key safety measures for ammonia refrigeration systems: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/safety-standards-ammonia-refrigeration