U.S. EPA settles with Growers Ice Company to improve chemical safety at Salinas facility
SALINAS, Calif. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with Growers Ice Company for violations of federal chemical release prevention and reporting requirements at its fresh produce storage and distribution facility located in Salinas. The company will pay a $30,000 civil penalty and spend approximately $105,000 to further reduce the risk of chemical accidents and provide environmental benefits at its facility.
In 2017, EPA inspectors found violations of the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan regulations at the Salinas facility. The violations included deficiencies in the plant’s process safety requirements, pipe labeling, operating procedures, mechanical integrity program, documentation of personnel training, and follow-up on compliance audit findings.
“Companies using large quantities of chemicals must take steps to prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “We are pleased that the company will upgrade equipment and controls, beyond what is required by law, to protect the health and safety of plant workers and the community.”
Thousands of facilities nationwide, many of which are in disproportionately affected communities, make, use and store extremely hazardous substances. 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. This case is part of EPA’s National Compliance Initiative to reduce risks of accidental releases at anhydrous ammonia refrigeration facilities. Growers Ice Company’s industrial refrigeration system uses large quantities of anhydrous ammonia, a toxic chemical highly corrosive to skin, eyes and lungs.
Growers Ice Company has addressed the identified violations. As part of the settlement, the company agreed to complete a supplemental environmental project valued at $105,000 to enhance safety equipment and procedures at the Salinas facility. The project includes installing new pumps and a new control system, which would allow an operator or emergency responder to remotely shut down the ammonia refrigeration systems, including in an emergency situation.
The Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program requires facilities with regulated hazardous substances to document hazard assessments detailing the potential effects of an accidental release and a prevention program that includes safety precautions and maintenance, monitoring, and employee training measures. When properly implemented, risk management plans help prevent chemical accidents and minimize their impact should they occur.
For more information on the Risk Management Plan requirements under the Clean Air Act, 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, visit: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/national-compliance-initiative-reducing-accidental-releases-industrial-and-chemical
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