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Cowiche Growers in Washington State fined over $17,000 for Clean Air Act violations

Release Date: 02/07/2008
Contact Information: Kelly Huynh, EPA RMP Coordinator, (206) 553-1679, huynh.kelly@epa.gov Tony Brown, EPA Public Affairs, (206) 553-1203, brown.anthony@epa.gov

Company agrees to provide over $43,000 to purchase new equipment to safely store their ammonia as well as communications equipment for Yakima Fire District #1.

(Cowiche, Wash. – Feb. 7, 2008) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that Cowiche Growers, Inc. (CGI) has agreed to pay $17,538 for alleged federal Clean Air Act (CAA) emergency prevention and planning violations.

As part of the settlement with the EPA, CGI has corrected all alleged violations, agreed to pay the penalty and spend at least $43,615 on implementing two Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) within the next six months. One of the SEPs involves the installation of new equipment that will store the company’s anhydrous ammonia in a safer and more secure location. The other SEP involves the purchase of communications equipment for Yakima Fire District #1 that serves the cities of Cowiche and Tieton.

CGI owns and operates a cold storage warehouse in Cowiche, Washington where it utilizes more than 10,000 lbs of anhydrous ammonia. At that level of use, section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act requires CGI to implement a Risk Management Program (RMP) at the facility.

Based on an inspection of CGI in June of 2006, EPA found the facility’s prevention program to be insufficient. 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.

Following the inspection, CGI has worked diligently towards coming into compliance.

"The RMP program is designed to protect public health and the environment by ideally preventing releases or in the event there is an unavoidable accidental release by lessoning those effects through effective emergency response planning,” said Kelly Huynh, EPA’s RMP Coordinator in Seattle. CGI’s program needed more attention to achieve those goals. ”

The federal Clean Air Act, Section 112(r), requires the development of a Risk Management Program and submittal of Risk Management Plans for all public and private facilities that manufacture, process, use, store, or otherwise handle greater than a threshold amount of a regulated substance(s). Toxic chemicals, such as ammonia and chlorine, are covered by the program.

The Risk Management Program requires, but is not limited to, the development of an emergency response or action plan; 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 find out more about the Risk Management Program go to Region 10's site at:
http://yosemite.epa.gov/R10/CLEANUP.NSF/sites/rmp