An ice cream manufacturer has agreed to make safety improvements and upgrade equipment at its manufacturing facility in Eugene, Oregon, following an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
As part of the settlement, Oregon Ice Cream Company will upgrade refrigeration equipment to prevent toxic anhydrous ammonia releases. The company also agreed to pay $55,000 in penalties for multiple violations of federal safety rules and risk management program requirements designed to prevent chemical emergencies.
Announcing the agreement on Tuesday, the EPA said that its inspectors found in 2011 that the Oregon Ice Cream facility failed to have an adequate risk management plan or proper safety equipment including leak detection and ventilation on its refrigeration system, which at the time was reported to contain over 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia.
According to the agency, the company’s failure to meet industry safety standards for safe operation and maintenance of its ammonia refrigeration equipment and its failure to install a leak detection system or emergency ventilation were violations of the federal Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan rules.
“EPA’s Risk Management Program is designed to protect the public from accidental releases of extremely hazardous chemicals,” said Ed Kowalski, director of the Pacific Northwest Office of Compliance and Enforcement. “Our federal rules, by themselves, will not guarantee safety from chemical accidents. Companies that use toxic chemicals need to take responsibility to prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.”
To correct the violations, the company has already upgraded its refrigeration equipment to meet industry safety standards, installed leak detection systems, upgraded its emergency relieve valve system, installed a proper ventilation system, and improved overall safety and maintenance procedures to better prevent, detect and safely respond to an accidental ammonia leak.