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Food Processing Company Settles Violations of Chemical Release Reporting Requirements at Allentown, Pa. Facility

Release Date: 01/15/2014
Contact Information: Donna Heron 215-814-5113 / heron.donna@epa.gov

PHILADELPHIA (Jan. 15, 2014) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that SunOpta Consumer Products Group, a division of SunOpta Foods, Inc., has agreed to pay a $19,049 penalty for failing to properly report a September 12, 2012 ammonia release at its food processing facility in Allentown, Pa.

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) mandates that facilities immediately notify state and local emergency response officials of significant releases of hazardous chemicals, and to provide follow-up reports on response actions and public health effects. This information ensures that state and local officials have timely and complete information to respond to chemical emergencies.

According to EPA, the facility released at least 450 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, a hazardous chemical, to the air on September 12, 2012. Employees were evacuated and the Upper Macungie Fire Department responded to a 911 call, determined that no action was needed and allowed employees to return to the facility. SunOpta did report the release to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.. However, the company did not immediately report this release, as required under EPCRA, to two other state and local emergency response agencies: the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Lehigh County Emergency Services office.

The settlement penalty reflects the company’s good faith and cooperation with EPA in resolving this matter. In the settlement, the company did not admit liability for the alleged violations, but has stated that it is now in compliance with applicable regulatory requirements.

For more information on EPA's emergency management programs, visit http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/index.htm