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$373,490 settles ammonia violations

USA: The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached settlements totalling $373,490 with two Maine-based companies for ammonia refrigeration system safety violations.

Earlier this month, Jasper Wyman & Son, a blueberry processing plant in Cherryfield, Maine, agreed to pay a penalty of $73,490 to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention requirements at its facility. In addition, the company agreed to provide training for local emergency responders on how to address ammonia releases and to donate equipment to the Cherryfield Fire Department to improve response capabilities under a Supplemental Environmental Project, valued at approximately $65,000.

Also, in the last year, Barber Foods LLC, a Portland-based company that manufactures frozen poultry products, agreed to pay a combined penalty of $300,000 for Risk Management Plan (RMP) violations at two of its facilities. 

Barber Foods agreed to pay a penalty of $149,000 for alleged violations at its Milliken Street plant and $151,000 for alleged violations at its St. John’s Street facility. 

EPA inspections of all three facilities identified violations of the Clean Air Act’s RMP requirements. In addition, the Jasper Wyman settlement includes allegations that the company failed to comply with the Clean Air Act’s General Duty Clause for one refrigeration system that had less than 10,000 lbs (4536kg) of ammonia. The three cases allege failures to identify, analyse and control certain hazards, failure to document compliance with certain good engineering practices, and equipment maintenance violations.

“Despite EPA’s efforts to improve compliance at facilities that use anhydrous ammonia as a refrigerant, our inspectors continue to see many troubling violations of the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention requirements – in particular, failure to identify common hazards and follow industry standards of care during the operation of these refrigeration systems,” said EPA New England regional administrator David W Cash.

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