USA: The US EPA has removed over 4.4 tonnes of ammonia from a dangerously dilapidated ice-house refrigeration system in New Jersey at a cost of $500,000.
The US Environmental Protection Agency was called in last month by the City of Vineland, NJ, to protect the surrounding community and workers at the South Jersey Ice and Cold Storage and Vineland Ice and Storage LLC facility in East Pear Street, Vineland, after it was found to be in a dangerous condition.
The Vineland ice house had been operating since 1922, storing ice and other frozen items, including frozen fish. The refrigeration system was reported to be in a very serious state of disrepair and excessive ice and frost had accumulated on the cooling coils.
The pressure relief discharge vents were located less than 100ft from the nearest homes in a heavily populated residential and commercial area.
“Due to the poor condition of the refrigeration system at the facility, federal, state and local officials consulted with experts and determined that urgent action was needed to protect local residents and prevent a disaster,” said Judith A Enck, EPA regional administrator.
The EPA worked with Vineland officials and others to keep local residents informed through regular updates and extensive door-to-door visits. The clean-up, which took over a month, also involved the temporary relocation of 35 residents from seven nearby homes during the more dangerous parts of the operation. Several daytime evacuations were also carried out of those living within a 500ft radius of the facility.
In addition to removing over 4.4 tonnes of ammonia, the clean up process included the installation of a chemical scrubber on two high-pressure relief discharge vents and the removal of all frozen perishable fish and other products from the facility. It also involved the removal and disposal of around 3,700 gallons of melt water and an estimated 37,000 gallons of brine from a brine tank in the machinery room, which was in danger of collapse.