AUSTRALIA: A poultry processing has been found guilty of an ammonia breach which harmed 26 people in 2018.
The NSW Land and Environment Court found Bartter Enterprises Pty guilty of discharging ammonia gas during upgrades to a poultry processing facility at Beresfield NSW that caused the evacuation of an adjoining processing building.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) commenced the prosecution after 17 people were treated by ambulance onsite and a further nine employees were transported to hospital and were treated for chemical exposure following an incident at the facility in mid-2018.
The Court found the defendant guilty of contravening their Environment Protection Licence which requires Bartter to maintain plant and equipment in a proper and efficient condition.
Bartter is said to have engaged a contractor to undertake upgrades to its ammonia refrigeration system at the premises when the gas was introduced to an open system.
“After the gas was introduced to a circuit it was subsequently discharged into the atmosphere. Ammonia was then detected in an adjacent building,” explained EPA director operations metro north Adam Gilligan.
The judge, the honourable Justice Sandra Duggan, found that ammonia was introduced into a circuit when it was not capable of containing the ammonia. It was noted that due to the physical state of the circuit Bartter were in breach of their licence.