Praxair in Carson, Calif., pays $127,000 EPA penalty for violations of law related to ammonia storage, risk management
LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with Praxair Inc., now known as Linde Inc., for violations of federal chemical release prevention and reporting requirements at its carbon dioxide liquification plant. The company will pay a $127,000 civil penalty and make safety improvements to its Carson, California facility to protect the public and first responders from dangerous chemicals.
The company’s Carson facility stores and distributes anhydrous ammonia and other chemicals. Exposure to high concentrations of anhydrous ammonia can lead to serious lung damage and even death.
“Reducing risks from accidental releases of hazardous substances at industrial and chemical facilities is a top priority for EPA,” said Amy Miller, EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Director of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “It is very important for facilities that store dangerous materials like anhydrous ammonia to understand the risks of this hazardous chemical and maintain a safe operation.”
Following a release of anhydrous ammonia in January 2019, Praxair failed to immediately notify the National Response Center, in violation of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, ultimately reporting the release several hours after it occurred.
EPA also found that Praxair violated multiple chemical accident prevention provisions of the Clean Air Act, which requires that facilities storing more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia are properly designed, operated, and maintained to minimize the risk of an accidental release. In addition, EPA found that Praxair failed to: properly label the facility’s process and emergency equipment; have proper emergency controls; replace damaged or missing insulation; properly seal doors; and protect electrical equipment with proper coverings.
Thousands of facilities nationwide make, use, and store extremely hazardous substances, including anhydrous ammonia. Catastrophic accidents at these facilities—historically about 150 each year—result in fatalities and serious injuries, evacuations, and other harm to human health and the environment. EPA inspected the Praxair facility as part of the agency’s National Compliance Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to reduce risk to human health and the environment by decreasing the likelihood of accidental releases at facilities such as anhydrous ammonia refrigeration facilities.
For more information on EPA’s Chemical Accident Risk Reduction National Compliance Initiative, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/national-compliance-initiative-reducing-accidental-releases-industrial-and-chemical
For more information on the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan Program, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/rmp.
For more information on the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act program: https://www.epa.gov/epcra/what-epcra.