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Chemical Spill Reporting Violations: EPA Settles with Handy Fertilizer in Millstadt, Ill.

Release Date: 04/02/2010
Contact Information: Kären Thompson, 312-353-8547, thompson.karen@epa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 10-OPA034

CHICAGO (April 2, 2010) —U. S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 recently settled an administrative case involving hazardous chemical release reporting violations at Handy Fertilizer Inc. in Millstadt, Ill.

Handy Fertilizer failed to provide immediate notification to the National Response Center of a 4,096-pound release of anhydrous ammonia on Sept. 23, 2008 at its plant, 5959 Floraville Road. The company also failed to update the accident history as required by its Risk Management Plan. Handy Fertilizer paid a $5,500 penalty and has installed a $22,855 site security system to resolve EPA’s enforcement action.

The release was caused by persons stealing the anhydrous ammonia for illegal methamphetamine production. About 200 persons were evacuated and three were taken to a hospital for evaluation as a result of the release. Crops in nearby fields were affected and some cattle were treated by a veterinarian. Locks have since been installed on all nurse tanks.

Anhydrous ammonia is commonly used in the manufacture of fertilizer and causes burns to the skin and irritation to the eyes, nose and throat. It may be fatal if inhaled for long periods of time.

Federal law requires immediate notification of the NRC for anhydrous ammonia releases above 100 pounds. The NRC activates the appropriate response authorities. Responders need to know what they’re dealing with so they can take steps to protect people living and working in the area. Federal law also requires that Risk Management Plans be updated within six months of an accident with off-site consequences.

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