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Seafood processor agrees $220,000 penalty for ammonia violations

USA: A seafood processor has agreed to pay a $220,000 penalty for alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act in respect of its ammonia refrigeration system.

In a settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Northern Pelagic Group  (NorPel) agreed to pay the penalty to settle EPA’s claims that the company violated the chemical accident prevention requirements of the federal Clean Air Act and the hazardous chemical reporting requirements under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) at its New Bedford seafood processing facility.

EPA alleged that the company, which maintains a significant amount of ammonia at its New Bedford, Massachusetts, facility, failed to file a risk management plan (RMP) with EPA. RMPs are required for facilities that manage, maintain or produce hazardous chemicals requiring stringent management to ensure public safety. 

EPA also alleged that the company had not adequately designed, operated, or maintained its refrigeration system. Finally, NorPel failed to file its annual EPCRA Tier II chemical inventory report for the 2015 reporting year with the state and local emergency response authorities.

“Complying with risk management plan regulations helps companies prevent accidental releases of extremely hazardous substances, including ammonia,” said EPA New England acting regional administrator Deborah Szaro. “These requirements are designed to help protect local communities and the emergency responders who may be called on if there is an accident at the facility.”

The company was co-operative and took the necessary steps to bring its facility into compliance with the Clean Air Act, including the filing of its RMP.

In 2018, NorPel agreed under a separate administrative compliance order with EPA to correct deficiencies noted in EPA’s inspection of the facility and as of this year has come into compliance with risk management planning requirements of the Clean Air Act and “key safety measures” for ammonia refrigeration systems.

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