Seattle -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached a settlement with Amalgamated Sugar Company LLC (Amalgamated Sugar) for failing to properly report the release of dangerous chlorine gas at its Paul, Idaho facility. Amalgamated Sugar, a sugar manufacturing facility that processes sugar beets, will pay $18,000 in penalties.
According to the settlement, plant operators did not immediately notify federal and state authorities about the chlorine gas release.
“Companies need to notify the appropriate agencies right away so emergency personnel can quickly respond to these hazardous chemical releases,' said Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA’s Office of Compliance & Enforcement in Seattle. “Failure to do this puts not only employees, but the community at risk.”
The release on February 7, 2012, was caused when a chemical truck driver mistakenly unloaded hydrochloric acid into the tank containing sodium hypochlorite. When mixed, the chemicals caused a violent reaction which blew the access lid off the tank, emitting 43 pounds of chlorine gas into the atmosphere. According to Amalgamated Sugar, the driver was injured and evacuated by ambulance. The company’s notification to state and federal authorities was over 46 hours late.
Chlorine is a toxic gas that attacks skin, eyes, throat, and lungs and can cause serious injury or death in extreme cases.
The chlorine release and the failure to notify appropriate agencies are violations of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).
For information on EPA's Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, visit http://www.epa.gov/oecaagct/lcra.html
For more about toxic effects of Anhydrous Ammonia (NIOSH GUIDE): http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0115.html
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