The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Fines Iowa Fertilizer Distributor for Accused Violations of the Clean Air Act
- By Shereen Hashem
- Nov 09, 2021
The EPA will collect $52,221 in penalty from a Potsville, Iowa fertilizer distributor Farmers Union Cooperative to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan Rule. According to EPA, the company stores 457,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, a regulated toxic substance, and failed to comply with regulations intended to protect workers and the surrounding community from accidental releases of regulated substances.
After reviewing Farmers Union Cooperative’s facility records, EPA determined that the company failed to update its plans for preventing the release of substance and its response to the release. According to a press release, violations also included the company’s failure to update a hazard review, failure to maintain operating procedures, and failure to perform and maintain compliance audits. In response to EPA’s findings, Farmers Union Cooperative took the necessary steps to return the facility to compliance.
Anhydrous ammonia presents a significant health hazard because it is corrosive to the skin, eyes and lungs. High levels of exposure may lead to choking and death. The Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan Rule regulations require facilities that use regulated toxic and/or flammable substances to develop a Risk Management Plan which identifies the potential effects of a chemical accident, identifies steps a facility is taking to prevent an accident and creates emergency response procedures if an accident occurs. These plans provide valuable information to local fire, police and emergency response personnel to prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies.
EPA has found that many regulated facilities are not adequately managing the risks that they pose or ensuring the safety of their facilities in a way that is sufficient to protect surrounding communities. According to the press release, approximately 150 catastrophic accidents occur each year at regulated facilities. These accidents result in fatalities, injuries, significant property damage, evacuations, sheltering in place or environmental damage. Many more accidents with less severe effects also occur, still demonstrating a clear risk posed by these facilities.
Reducing risks from accidental releases of hazardous substances at industrial and chemical facilities is a top priority for EPA. Click here for more information.
Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety Magazine.