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US companies fined $270,000 for ammonia violations

USA: The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced recent settlements totalling $270,000 with two food companies for Clean Air Act violations relating to their use of ammonia refrigeration.

Saputo Cheese USA will pay $170,000 in civil penalties following the release of 5,690 lb (2.58 tonnes) of anhydrous ammonia at its facility in Tulare, California, in 2018.

EPA inspections in 2019 found that the company failed to correct corrosion on piping and structural supports and failed to demonstrate that safety vents met industry standards. 

The EPA also found that Saputo Cheese did not accurately report the total amount of ammonia it manages and failed to comply with requirements related to planning for accidental releases. EPA found that safety improvements were necessary at the facility to help prevent future accidents.

In a separate case, Smith Frozen Foods Inc of Weston, Oregon, agreed to pay a $100,000 penalty for Clean Air Act violations after EPA inspections in 2016 found that the company failed to maintain and implement its required Risk Management Plan when using and storing anhydrous ammonia.

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