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Oregon Potato Company pays EPA penalty for failing to report ammonia release

Release Date: 01/26/2012
Contact Information: Wally Moon, EPA Preparedness and Prevention Unit Manager, 206-553-6323, moon.wally@epa.gov Tony Brown, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-1203, brown.anthony@epa.gov

(Seattle—Jan. 26, 2012) Oregon Potato Company failed to report an anhydrous ammonia release at their facility in Warden, Washington and will pay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency a $66,235 penalty.

On July 2, 2009, the facility released approximately 300 pounds of anhydrous ammonia into the environment, according to the EPA settlement. The facility, located at 1900 First Avenue West in Warden, Washington, produces dried and dehydrated frozen potato products.

According to Wally Moon, EPA Preparedness and Prevention Unit Manager in Seattle, these cases are about protecting workers, emergency responders and the community.

“When unintended chemical releases occur, every minute counts if it is an emergency,” said EPA’s Moon. “Emergency responders need to be notified promptly to react effectively.”

The leak occurred when a circuit breaker failed, causing a pressure relief valve to open releasing the anhydrous ammonia. EPA alleges that Oregon Potato failed to immediately notify local and state agencies about the release. While no injuries were reported at the time of the incident, ammonia is a pungent, toxic gas that attacks skin, eyes, throat, and lungs and can cause serious injury or death.

The ammonia release and the failure to notify appropriate agencies are violations of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

For information on EPA's Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, visit
http://www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/epcra/epcraenfstatreq.html

For more about toxic effects of Anhydrous Ammonia (NIOSH GUIDE):
http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0028.html

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