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Environmental Enforcement: Farm Supplier Fined for Ammonia Mishandling

A Midwestern agriculture supply business has agreed to pay a $54,922 civil penalty to the United States for improper management of equipment used to process chemicals, in violation of Clean Air Act regulations.

ADI Agronomy – which owns a group of farm supply facilities in southeast Missouri and northeast Arkansas – has agreed to pay the fine for mishandling anhydrous ammonia at its Ag Distributors location in Kennett, Mo. location.

Anhydrous ammonia is used at the facility for making liquid fertilizer, which is then sold to farmers in the area. The substance is corrosive and exposure to it may result in burns to skin, eyes and lungs.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 7, which covers the Midwest, issued an administrative compliance order to the Kennett facility in July 2010, after an inspection found eight violations of the Risk Management Program regulations contained within the federal Clean Air Act.

Ag Distributors had failed to establish and implement maintenance procedures for equipment used in processing the anhydrous ammonia, the compliance order said.

The facility had also failed to document that the equipment used in the process complied with generally accepted good engineering practices, according to the EPA order.

As part of an administrative consent agreement issued by the EPA in Kansas City, Kan., ADI Agronomy, doing business as Ag Distributors, agreed to pay the $54,922 penalty.

The Kennett facility is subject to the Risk Management Program regulations because it uses, stores, manufactures or handles the on-site movement of more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia while producing liquid fertilizer.

Facilities like Ag Distributors that mix or blend fertilizers using anhydrous ammonia, but which do not sell actual anhydrous ammonia directly to farmers, must implement the most stringent type of Risk Management Program, known as the Program 3 Prevention Program.

Ag Distributors failed to comply with the Program 3 Prevention Program requirements, which require detailed safety precautions, preventative maintenance, special operating procedures, and employee training measures, according to the EPA.

As part of its settlement with EPA, ADI Agronomy has certified that the Ag Distributors facility in Kennett is now in compliance with the chemical Risk Management Program regulations.

News surfaced in November 2010 that two Connecticut companies were fined by the EPA for failing to correctly report the presence of anhydrous ammonia on their premises as required under the Community Right-to-Know Act.

The Sousa Corporation in West Hartford, Conn. agreed in March 2010 to pay $8,014 to settle claims that it failed to properly report the chemical’s presence at its facility, and the Highway Safety Corporation in Glastonbury, Conn. agreed to pay a penalty of $42,700 for failing to file Toxic Release Inventory forms for the ammonia and a number of other hazardous chemicals.

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