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Winery acts over ammonia safety concerns

USA: California wine producer E&J Gallo will pay a $57,839 civil penalty and spend $350,000 to resolve risk management violations with the ammonia refrigeration system at its Fresno facility.

In 2015, EPA inspectors found violations of the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan regulations. The violations included deficiencies in the plant’s hazard assessment, process safety information, operating procedures, mechanical integrity programme, compliance audits, incident investigations, and emergency response programme.

The E&J Gallo Winery’s industrial refrigeration system uses large quantities of anhydrous ammonia at the Fresno facility.

The company addressed all of the identified violations. As part of the settlement, the company agreed to complete a supplemental environmental project valued at $350,000 to enhance safety equipment and procedures at the Fresno facility. The project includes installing new valves and upgrading emergency shutoff switches allowing an operator or emergency responder to remotely shut down the ammonia refrigeration systems, including in an emergency situation.

“Facilities that store and use hazardous substances must follow federal requirements to protect communities and the environment from potentially catastrophic accidents,” said EPA Pacific Southwest regional administrator Mike Stoker. “Today’s action will bring investment in safety improvements to this Fresno facility.”

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