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U.S. EPA fines Oxnard company for failing to notify fire department of ammonia release


LOS ANGELES - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fined Western Precooling Systems of Oxnard, Calif. $4,550 for its failure to immediately inform emergency responders of an ammonia release at its facility in June 2006.

Western Precooling Systems provides equipment and services for agricultural refrigeration.

“Facilities that use toxic chemicals such as ammonia must follow federal rules so that area residents and emergency response personnel are informed of possible chemical hazards in the local environment,” said Jeff Scott, director of the EPA’s Communities and Ecosystems Division for the Pacific Southwest region. “The EPA is serious about enforcing community right-to-know laws, and will use the full weight of the law to see that firms obey them.”

According to the EPA, in June 2006, Western Precooling Systems allegedly suffered an equipment failure which resulted in a high-pressure release of ammonia from a refrigeration system. Western Precooling Systems reportedly failed to immediately notify the National Response Center of the release, which is a violation of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.

Exposure to ammonia can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system; extreme exposure may cause death.

Enacted by Congress in 1980, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act created a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries and provided broad federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment.


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