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Washington Beef agrees to spend at least $115,942 to settle EPA Risk Management Program violations

Release Date: 09/22/2008
Contact Information: Javier Morales/EPA (206) 553-1255, morales.javier@epa.gov Mark MacIntyre/EPA (206)553-7302, macintyre.mark@epa.gov

(Seattle, Wash. – September 22, 2008) Washington Beef, a beef processing facility in Toppenish, Washington, will spend at least $115,942 to settle alleged risk management program violations under the federal Clean Air Act.

The Washington Beef facility uses more than 10,000 lbs of anhydrous ammonia for refrigeration purposes. At that level of use, section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act requires the Company to implement a Risk Management Program (RMP).

Under the terms of the settlement, the company will pay a penalty of $25,942, and spend at least $90,000 implementing a supplemental environmental project (within a year) that requires the purchase and installation of a new internal ammonia alarm system and related safety equipment. In the event of an ammonia release at the facility, this system is expected to improve both response time and safety for employees, emergency responders and the local community.

According to Kelly Huynh, prevention team leader in EPA’s Emergency Response program, having a solid prevention program in place can help a facility avoid having things go from "bad" to "worse" 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 Huynh. “They have a responsibility to workers, emergency responders and the community to make sure a serious accident doesn’t become a senseless tragedy.”

According to legal documents filed with the case, an inspection took place on June 21, 2006 at Washington Beef’s cold storage warehouse in Toppenish, Washington, within the Yakama Indian Reservation. Based on the EPA inspection and follow-up information provided by the company, EPA determined that Washington Beef failed to comply with several risk management program requirements from at least August 2, 2004 through June 1, 2007. The violations have since been corrected.

Risk Management Plans have been required for facilities that use, handle or store more than 10,000 lbs. of anhydrous ammonia in a single process since June 21, 1999.

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For 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