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Washington fertilizer distributors fined over $33,000 for failing to properly plan for chemical releases at eight facilities

Release Date: 01/06/2011
Contact Information: Javier Morales, EPA RMP Coordinator, (206) 553-1255, morales.javier@epa.gov Tony Brown, EPA Public Affairs, (206) 553-1203, brown.anthony@epa.gov

(Seattle – Jan. 6, 2011) Two Washington ammonia fertilizer distributors have agreed to pay over $33,000 for failing to update their plans for preventing chemical releases at eight facilities throughout Washington.

AG Link, Inc. will pay $13,521 and Colfax Grange Supply Co., Inc. will pay $19,986 to settle alleged violations of the Risk Management provisions of section 112(r) of the federal Clean Air Act.

In October 2009, EPA discovered that AG Link, Colfax and their eight facilities located at Almira, Davenport, Edwall, Coulee City, Reardan, Colfax, Wilbur, and Steptoe, Washington failed to update their risk management practices at least every five years as required by the CAA. The facilities store more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, which exceeds the threshold quantity that triggers federal planning requirements.

According to Wally Moon, EPA’s prevention team leader in EPA’s Emergency Response program in Seattle, having a solid prevention program in place can help a facility keep a dangerous situation under control if a workplace accident occurs.

“Companies with large amounts of ammonia on-site must have a solid, comprehensive leak prevention program in place,” said EPA’s Moon. “They have a responsibility to protect workers, emergency responders and the community to make sure a serious accident doesn’t occur.”

As a result of this enforcement action, AG Link and Colfax have corrected their violations.

The required risk management plans consists of the following:

  • Identifying hazards
  • Maintenance of equipment
  • Training of operators
  • Emergency response plan
Anhydrous ammonia is a chemical used in refrigeration and agriculture. Ammonia is a colorless gas that can cause severe burns to skin, eyes, throat, and lungs, and with high enough exposure, death.

To learn more about EPA’s work to protect communities from toxic chemicals through the Risk Management Program go to:
http://yosemite.epa.gov/r10/airpage.nsf/enforcement/rmp
For more about toxic effects of Anhydrous Ammonia (NIOSH GUIDE): http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0028.html
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