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Roy Farms, Inc. Agrees to Pay EPA over $29,000 for Emergency Planning and Release Prevention Violations

Release Date: 08/14/2008
Contact Information: Javier Morales, EPA RMP Coordinator, (206) 553-1255, morales.javier@epa.gov Tony Brown, EPA Public Affairs, (206)553-7302, brown.anthony@epa.gov

Company agrees to spend over $84,000 to purchase new communications and safety equipment for Yakima County Fire District #4

(Seattle, Wash. – August 14, 2008) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that Roy Farms, Inc. (Roy Farms) has agreed to pay $29,320 for alleged federal Clean Air Act (CAA) emergency prevention and planning violations. The alleged violations occurred between July, 2002 and July, 2007.

As part of the settlement with the EPA, Roy Farms also has corrected all alleged violations, and agreed to spend at least $84,120 on implementing a Supplement Environmental Project (SEP) within the next three months. The SEP involves purchasing new communications and safety equipment for the East Valley fire Department, Yakima County Fire District #4, to improve the department’s capabilities in responding to hazardous material emergencies in a safe and effective environment.

Based on an investigation of Roy Farms in August of 2006, EPA found that the facility lacked a prevention program to protect the public and the environment from off-site release of anhydrous ammonia. EPA was particularly concerned about the lack of:

  • safety information pertaining to the hazards of ammonia;
  • procedures for identifying, evaluating, and controlling the
  • hazards involved in the cold storage process;
  • sufficient operating procedures and operator training; and
  • documentation regarding process equipment maintenance.

Roy Farms owns and operates a cold storage warehouse in Moxee, Washington where it utilizes more than 10,000 lbs of anhydrous ammonia for refrigeration purposes. At that level of use, the Clean Air Act requires Roy Farms to implement a Risk Management Program (RMP). Specifically, Section 112(r) requires all public and private facilities that manufacture, process, use, store, or otherwise handle greater than a threshold amount of a regulated substance(s) to develop a “Risk Management Program” and submit Risk Management Plans. Toxic chemicals, such as ammonia and chlorine, are covered by the program.

"The Risk Management Program is designed to protect public health and the environment from accidental releases of harmful chemicals,” said Javier Morales, EPA’s RMP Coordinator in Seattle. “Roy Farms’ emergency prevention program needed much more attention to achieve this goal. We can't take chances with public health.”

“Washington state is home to just over half of the facilities in our region that require plans & programs which includes Alaska, Idaho and Oregon”, said EPA’s Morales. "Of those facilities that have failed to submit a required plan, close to 90 percent are located in the Yakima and Wenatchee valleys.”

Anhydrous ammonia is one of the most dangerous chemicals used in refrigeration and agriculture today. Few problems occur when the ammonia is being handled as intended; most accidents with anhydrous ammonia are due to uncontrolled releases. It is used and stored under high pressure, which requires specially designed and well-maintained equipment. Those who work with anhydrous ammonia must be trained to follow exact handling procedures. The primary causes of uncontrolled releases are improper handling procedures, careless or untrained workers, or faulty equipment.

Specific items required by the Risk Management Program include: development of an emergency response or action plan; hazard evaluation of a “worst case and “more probable case” chemical release; operator training; review of the hazards associated with using toxic or flammable substances; and operating procedures and equipment maintenance.

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/CLEANUP.NSF/sites/rmp

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

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