sábado, junio 22

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reaches settlement with Yuma company

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a settlement with ACS, LLC over chemical safety violations at its facility in Yuma, Arizona. The company will pay a $75,373 civil penalty and spend another $93,000 towards the purchase of emergency response equipment for the Yuma Fire Department. The facility uses large amounts of anhydrous ammonia for its industrial refrigeration, which provides cold storage for vegetables harvested by local growers. A 2019 EPA inspection of the facility identified significant violations of the Clean Air Act’s risk management program requirements.

“Facilities that store hazardous materials must follow the federal rules that protect human health and the environment from potentially catastrophic accidents,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “Today’s action demonstrates EPA’s commitment to enforce the laws that protect the public, including facility staff, first responders and members of the surrounding Yuma community.”

The inspection revealed process safety and equipment maintenance issues including failure to properly conduct a hazard analysis, failure to document the inspection and testing of equipment, and inadequate written operating procedures and coordination with local emergency planning and response organizations. The company also did not adequately report off-season storage of hazardous substances as required by the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

As part of the settlement, ACS has corrected all identified violations and agreed to complete a supplemental environmental project valued at $93,000 to purchase emergency response equipment for the Yuma Fire Department. Specifically, the company will purchase handheld radios compliant with the Federal Emergency Management Agency standards for digital radio communications for public safety agencies nationally and internationally.

Proper implementation of risk management programs helps to prepare for and prevent chemical releases at facilities that store large amounts of regulated hazardous substances. The company’s industrial refrigeration system uses large quantities of anhydrous ammonia, a toxic chemical highly that is corrosive to skin, eyes, and lungs.

Thousands of facilities nationwide make, use, and store extremely hazardous substances, including anhydrous ammonia. Catastrophic accidents at ammonia refrigeration facilities—historically about 150 each year—result in evacuations as well as fatalities, serious injuries, and other harms to human health and the environment. EPA inspected this facility as part of the Agency’s National Compliance Initiative, which seeks to reduce risks to human health and the environment by decreasing the likelihood of accidental releases and mitigating the consequences of chemical accidents.