U.S. EPA requires Hawaii’s largest refrigerated food warehouse to improve chemical safety
HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with Unicold Corporation to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act at Unicold’s cold storage and distribution facility in Honolulu, Hawaii. The violations pertain to the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention requirements. Unicold will pay a $210,564 civil penalty and implement changes to reduce the risk of chemical accidents at its facility.
“Ensuring facilities reduce the risk of releases of toxic substances like anhydrous ammonia is critical,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “We’re pleased that Unicold will work to make Hawaii’s largest refrigeration facility safer as a result of this settlement.”
In March 2019, EPA’s inspection found that Unicold’s industrial refrigeration system violated the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan regulations by failing to safely manage large quantities of anhydrous ammonia, a toxic chemical highly corrosive to skin, eyes and lungs. Proper development and implementation of a risk management plan helps facilities that store large amounts of regulated hazardous substances prevent and prepare for chemical accidents.
The inspection revealed that the ammonia refrigeration system was not designed to meet current safety standards. In addition, the facility’s written management system – developed to carry out the risk management plan – was deficient as components were either out of date or not being implemented. The inspection also found several deficiencies, including but not limited to:
- Failure to label and protect anhydrous ammonia pipes and equipment from potential forklift strikes;
- Failure to adequately maintain ammonia piping and equipment from ice build-up and corrosion;
- Failure to establish written procedures for inspection, testing, and maintenance tasks for the Facility’s three engine room emergency ventilation systems;
- Failure to have accurate operating procedures;
- Failure to correct equipment deficiencies and document an appropriate response compliance audit and process hazard analysis findings;
- Failure to install air tight doors to the engine rooms with panic hardware or adequate labeling; and
- Failure to install eyewash and safety shower systems both inside and outside each of the facility’s engine rooms.
For more information on the Risk Management Plan requirements under the Clean Air Act, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/rmp.
For more information on EPA’s National Compliance Initiative related to reducing risks of accidental releases at ammonia refrigeration facilities, please visit https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/national-compliance-initiative-reducing-accidental-releases-industrial-and-chemical