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U.S. EPA fines winery $11,687 over ammonia release violations. Firm failed to notify authorities after chemical release


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently fined Diamond Oaks Winery $11,687 for failing to make the required notifications after an ammonia release at its Oakville, Calif. plant.

The company failed to immediately report the ammonia release to the National Response Center violating the EPA’s reporting requirements. The incident was reported a month later, in September 2006.

“Companies have a responsibility to immediately report toxic chemical releases,” said Keith Takata, Superfund division director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “This information needs to be provided quickly so that authorities are better able to respond to the emergency.”

In August 2006, an employee at the winery, located at 1595 Oakville Grade discovered a pressure gauge and seal on a compressor motor had failed, leading to the release of 750 to 800 pounds of ammonia.

Exposure to ammonia can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system; extreme exposure may cause death. Ammonia is listed as a hazardous substance under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act

Federal law requires immediate notification of the release of a reportable quantity of a hazardous substance, such as ammonia, in order to allow emergency response teams an opportunity to evaluate the nature and extent of the release, prevent exposure to the hazardous substance, and minimize consequences to public health and the environment. The reportable quantity for ammonia is 100 pounds


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