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Spokane cold storage company pays $67,000 EPA penalty for failure to report ammonia release

Release Date: 03/28/2011
Contact Information: Suzanne Powers, EPA Emergency Response Program, (360) 753-9475, powers.suzanne@epa.gov Tony Brown, EPA Public Affairs, (206) 553-1203, brown.anthony@epa.gov

(Seattle – March 28, 2011) Empire Cold Storage, a Spokane cold storage warehouse and packaged ice producer, will pay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency $67,142 for its failure to report an estimated 400 pounds of anhydrous ammonia release at their Spokane facility.

On July 14, 2007, the Empire facility released approximately 400 pounds of ammonia into the environment at its facility located at 1327 N. Oak Street Spokane, Washington according to the EPA settlement. Empire uses large quantities of anhydrous ammonia at the facility as a refrigerant.

"When toxic gases like ammonia get released, prompt reporting can save lives,” said Edward Kowalski, Director of EPA’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle. “These cases are about protecting workers, emergency responders and the community.”

The leak occurred when a failed pressure gauge caused a release of anhydrous ammonia that lasted up to three hours. EPA alleges that Empire then failed to immediately notify local and state agencies about the release. While no injuries were reported at the time of the accident, ammonia is a pungent, toxic gas that attacks skin, eyes, throat, and lungs and can cause serious injury and death.

The ammonia release and the failure to notify appropriate agencies are violations of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).


For information on EPA's Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, visit http://www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/epcra/epcraenfstatreq.html

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

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