National ammonia distributor Tanner Industries has agreed to install and operate $345,000 of ammonia leak detection systems at 14 facilities across the country to settle claims by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the company violated federal clean air regulations on chemical risk management at plants in Rhode Island and Michigan.
Tanner will also pay the EPA $56,700 to settle the claims.
The EPA says that Tanner did take some actions to address the risks of an accidental release of ammonia at its facility in Rhode Island. But the company failed to address the risks associated with its policy of not staffing the facility except when ammonia is being received or distributed there, the agency said. Tanner’s Rhode Island facility is about a tenth of a mile from a residential neighborhood. The company’s Michigan plant has similar staffing problems, the EPA said.
The firm also failed to coordinate adequate emergency response plans with local emergency response agencies to ensure that the public would be protected in the event of a release of ammonia, according to the EPA.
Tanner is subject to the federal Clean Air Act’s risk management planning requirements because ammonia is classified as an extremely hazardous substance.
The new ammonia leak detectors Tanner agreed to install and operate will alert residents in surrounding communities of accidental releases of ammonia. Alarm signals will also be sent to emergency response personnel so that they may address accidental ammonia releases.
This week’s agreement involved two separate settlements with EPA regional offices. In a settlement with EPA New England, Tanner agreed to install and operate ammonia leak detection systems at six Tanner facilities: Butner, N.C.; East Providence, R.I.; Tamaqua, Penn.; Philadelphia, Penn.; New Castle, Penn.; and Natalbany, La. The company also agreed to a $28,350 penalty to settle claims of violating the Clear Air Act at its Rhode Island plant.
In a separate settlement with EPA’s Region 5 office in Chicago, the company agreed to install and operate detectors at eight other Tanner facilities: Lincoln, Ala.; Inkster, Mich.; Belvidere, Ill.; Council Bluffs, Iowa; Neosho, Mo.; Morgantown, W.Va.; Mount Hope, W.Va.; and Fayetteville, N.C. This settlement also requires Tanner to pay a penalty of $28,350 for violating the Clean Air Act at its Inkster, Michigan plant.
In March, a Midwestern agriculture supply business agreed to pay a $54,922 civil penalty to the United States for improper management of equipment used to process anhydrous ammonia, in violation of Clean Air Act regulations.
ADI Agronomy – which owns a group of farm supply facilities in southeast Missouri and northeast Arkansas – agreed to pay the fine for mishandling the substance at its Ag Distributors location in Kennett, Mo., location.