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Carl Collen

BY CARL COLLEN

Del Monte settles over ammonia release

In addition to the penalty, Del Monte will spend over US$100,000 to enhance safety at its facility, EPA reveals

Del Monte settles over ammonia release

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The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a settlement with Del Monte Fresh Produce for violations of federal chemical safety and reporting requirements following an ammonia release at its storage and distribution facility located in Sanger, California. 

Del Monte, one of the world’s largest distributers of fresh produce, will pay a US$80,000 civil penalty and spend approximately US$110,000 to reduce the risk of chemical accidents at its facility, the EPA confirmed.

“Ammonia releases put workers and nearby residents at risk,” said EPA Pacific Southwest regional administrator Mike Stoker. “As a result of EPA’s inspection, we’re very pleased that Del Monte will invest in making the plant safer for all.”

EPA inspected the facility after a release of more than 24,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia at the facility in December 2016.

During the inspection, EPA found violations of the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan regulations, including deficiencies in the plant’s hazard assessment, mechanical integrity programme, compliance audits, and emergency response programme.

EPA inspectors also found that the company failed to immediately notify the National Response Center and the California Office of Emergency Services as soon as it knew of the release, in violation of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

Proper implementation of a risk management plan helps facilities that store large amounts of regulated hazardous substances prevent and prepare for chemical accidents.

Del Monte’s industrial refrigeration system uses large quantities of anhydrous ammonia, a toxic chemical highly corrosive to skin, eyes and lungs.

The case is part of EPA’s National Compliance Initiative to reduce risks of accidental releases at anhydrous ammonia refrigeration facilities.

Under the terms of the settlement, the company will also install two new pumps to reduce potential leaks and a new control system for its anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system, with automated controls and notification system.

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