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EPA FINES APACHE NITROGEN $113,325 FOR HAZARDOUS RELEASES

Release Date: 11/25/1997
Contact Information: Lois Grunwald, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1588

     (San Francisco) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) today announced that it has filed a civil complaint against Apache Nitrogen Products Inc.for failure to comply with emergency notification requirements in connection with ammonia and nitric acid releases from its plant near Benson, Ariz. The complaint seeks a penalty of $113,325.  Apache Nitrogen is also a Superfund site where active cleanup is underway.  
 
     "Apache Nitrogen failed to immediately notify local, state and federal authorities when these releases of extremely hazardous chemicals occurred," said Keith Takata, U.S. EPA's Superfund Division director. "Ensuring that the public receives fast, accurate notification about risks is critical to our mission of protecting the public and the environment."  

     On September 14, 1996 and September 9, 1994, respectively, Apache Nitrogen accidentally released into the air about 10,460 pounds and 438 pounds of anhydrous ammonia. In addition, on November 16, 1993, the company released 5,898 pounds of nitric acid to soil at its facility.

     The complaint charges Apache Nitrogen with seven violations of federal emergency notification laws. The company failed to immediately notify the National Response Center (NRC), as required under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, known as Superfund), and the Arizona Emergency Response Commission and Cochise County Emergency Planning Committee, as required under the Emergency Planning and Community-Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA).

     Under CERCLA and EPCRA, when 100 pounds or more of ammonia and 1,000 pounds or more of nitric acid are released into the environment, businesses must immediately notify the NRC, the State Emergency Response Commission, and the Local Emergency Planning Committee.

     Immediate notification of pollutant releases is essential for emergency response teams to evaluate the nature and extent of a hazardous release and to make informed decisions to protect the community and the environment.  

     Further information on EPCRA and CERCLA hazardous substance release notification requirements may be obtained by calling U.S. EPA's toll-free hotline at (800) 535-0202.

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