EPA Issues Enforcement Alert associated with Anyhdrous Ammonia at Refrigeration Facilities, February 2015
The U.S. EPA (EPA) issued an Enforcement Alert in February 2015 entitled “Anhydrous Ammonia at Refrigeration Facilities Under Scrutiny by U.S. EPA.” This Enforcement Alert notes that the EPA has gathered evidence that suggests refrigeration facilities may not be properly managing their ammonia. It states that the “Alert is intended to inform industry that companies must take responsibility to prevent accidental releases of dangerous chemicals like anhydrous ammonia through compliance with CAA’s Chemical Accident Prevention Program (40 CFR 68).”
The alert reiterates and highlights that the Clean Air Act’s Chemical Accident Prevention Program is used in conjunction with the General Duty Clause and Industry Standards as enforcement tools. It also notes that its enforcement focus is on accident prevention.
The February 2015 Enforcement Alert also states that since 2012 EPA has responded to ammonia release incidents related to deficient chemical accident prevention practices with enforcement actions and imposing over $8.4 million in civil penalties. Several case studies are provided, each with a civil penalty ranging from $34,000 to $106,000. In addition to fines and penalties, EPA notes that, “companies will spend approximately $10 million on supplemental environmental projects, including purchasing equipment and providing training for emergency responders…” among others.
The US EPA website states that the Enforcement Alert is a Newsletter and is intended for informational purposes only. However, industry typically interprets this publication as a notice of where EPA will be placing its enforcement priority. If this is true, then we can expect EPA to be visiting facilities with ammonia refrigeration more frequently in the coming year.
Read the full Enforcement Alert here.