EPA settles with Tolleson, Ariz. company for failing to notify authorities after chemical release
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently settled with an ammonia facility to pay $65,045 in fines and spend $15,000 on protective gear for the Tolleson Fire Department for failing to immediately notify the proper authorities after a chemical release from its Tolleson, Ariz. facility.
Rousseau Farming Company failed to immediately notify the National Response Center, the State Emergency Response Commission and the Local Emergency Planning Commission after an estimated 610 – 1,080 pounds of ammonia leaked from the facility located at 9601 W. Harrison St. on Nov. 26, 2006. The reportable quantity is 100 pounds.
“When companies fail to submit chemical inventory information and report chemical releases, the health of local responders and the public will be put at risk" said Keith Takata, the EPA’s Superfund director for the Pacific Southwest region. “The agreement reached with Rousseau will further protect the community by increasing the local fire department’s ability to respond to chemical releases.”
The release was a result of a pin-hole leak in a cooling coil that is part of the refrigeration system at the facility. Rousseau Farming reported the release to the NRC, the Maricopa Local Emergency Planning Commission and the Arizona Emergency Response Planning Commission 10 days after the release. The company also failed to submit a required chemical safety information form and annual chemical inventory forms for years 2003-2005 to the state and local emergency planning commissions and the fire department.
Under the settlement, the company will spend $15,000 on 14 sets of turnout gear uniforms for fire fighters to use when responding to chemical fires.
Federal law requires immediate notification of a reportable release in order for emergency response teams to evaluate the nature and extent of a hazardous substance release, prevent exposure and minimize consequences.
Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia can cause severe burns on the skin, eyes, throat and lungs. Breathing low levels of ammonia can cause coughing, as well as nose and throat irritation. Ammonia also plays a role in the formation of particulate air pollution, which has been linked to numerous health problems, including chronic bronchitis and lung disease.
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