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Food processor agrees $138k ammonia refrigeration settlement

USA: The US EPA has announced a proposed $138,281 penalty settlement with a Massachusetts food processing company for failing to properly manage the ammonia used in its refrigeration system.

Under risk management regulations of the US Clean Air Act, Kayem Foods is required to properly manage the anhydrous ammonia used in the refrigeration system at its Chelsea, Massachusetts facility in order to protect the safety of workers, emergency responders, and the surrounding community. 

Kayem Foods is said to operate a meat processing, cooking, packaging, and storage facility located in a densely populated neighbourhood in Chelsea.

The alleged violations at the facility, which uses over 10,000lb (4,536kg) of ammonia, were uncovered in July 2014. 

The EPA says Kayem Foods was out of compliance and needed to upgrade and improve access to critical valves in case of emergency, provide alarms to warn of a release, reposition pressure relief piping to keep from endangering anyone nearby when in use, improve maintenance of system piping, improve the ventilation system for managing a potential ammonia release, and make other corrections at the facility.

Kayem Foods has agreed to pay the $138,281 penalty and is said to have provided the EPA with information indicating that it is now in compliance with the various EPA requirements.

US facilities subject to the risk management regulations must update their risk management plans at least every five years. Because 2019 is the 20th anniversary of when many facilities first created these plans, many of these facilities are due to update and resubmit their risk management plans to EPA this year.

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