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EPA Orders Ice Manufacturer to Fix Systems; One of Several EPA Actions in Rochester to Improve Health and Environment

Release Date: 02/24/2005
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FOR RELEASE: Thursday, February 24, 2005

(#05015) NEW YORK -- An order was issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) against Happy Ice, a packaged ice manufacturing and cold storage facility in Fairport, New York. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA has ordered Happy Ice to immediately bring the ammonia refrigeration systems at its facility on Turk Hill Road into compliance. During an inspection of the facility, EPA found that its ammonia refrigeration system was not operating safely and needed repairs, including repairs to stop leaks. This is the latest action of a broad initiative to improve public health and the environment in Rochester.

"EPA has stepped in and demanded that Happy Ice take action to protect an adjacent residential community and the environment," Acting EPA Regional Administrator Kathleen C. Callahan said. "By encouraging voluntary action and spot-checking compliance, EPA is helping Rochester reduce pollution from many sources, and improving the health of local residents."

The provision of the Clean Air Act on which the order is based is only used when there is serious risk of accidental releases because a facility is not operated safely. EPA's action requires Happy Ice to immediately do a comprehensive assessment of its refrigeration systems and make all necessary repairs and upgrades to prevent accidental releases as well as to perform tests to ensure that there are no further ongoing leaks from the system. Happy Ice must take these actions in accordance with specific and stringent deadlines that range from one to three months. If Happy Ice fails to comply, EPA can assess penalties.

In addition, EPA recently issued a civil administrative complaint against Happy Ice because it had a deficient risk management program for its facility. Risk management programs are required of certain facilities under the Clean Air Act to prevent accidental releases of regulated substances, including anhydrous ammonia, and to ensure appropriate operation and maintenance of those systems. Happy Ice has paid a penalty of $34,600, and is working on improving its risk management program.

Today's action is part of a citywide initiative by EPA to reduce health and environmental risks of residents, especially children in Rochester. The city was chosen because it is a highly industrialized area with relatively high emissions reported through EPA's Toxic Release Inventory and health data shows that some children have high blood lead levels. The Agency has been working since last spring using a variety of environmental grants, compliance assistance tools, inspections and enforcement actions to reduce the emission of pollutants through better overall compliance with environmental regulations, and to improve the local environment and health of residents, especially children.

EPA has coordinated its efforts with officials from the city's Department of Environmental Services and the Monroe County Department of Public Health. EPA has also held meetings with business associations, Community Sector Leaders and the Center for Environmental Information.

As part of the initiative, EPA inspected 166 facilities to assess industrial and commercial facilities' compliance with regulations governing air pollution, solid and hazardous waste, asbestos, pesticides, toxic waste disposal, and chemical inventories. Large and small commercial and industrial operations, as well as hospitals and schools, were inspected. EPA also provided information and guidance to assist facilities in complying with federal regulations; provided $70,000 to the Rochester City School District to remove more than 700 gallons of chemicals from science labs and other areas; and awarded $1 million to Rochester to establish a revolving loan fund that would enable the city to clean up and redevelop old industrial sites.