Tyson Foods and Ammonia
Tyson foods is all about chickens. Well that is not quite so. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a Clean Air Act (CAA) settlement with Tyson Foods, Inc. and several of its affiliate corporations to address threats of accidental chemical releases after anhydrous ammonia was released during incidents at facilities in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska, resulting in multiple injuries, property damage, and one fatality. Ammonia, in this case is often used for refrigeration systems.
The Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program (Section 112(r)) requires owners and operators of facilities that exceed a threshold quantity of a regulated substance, such as anhydrous ammonia, to develop and implement a risk management plan that must be submitted to EPA. The 23 Tyson facilities named in the consent decree are subject to the regulations because the refrigeration systems at the facilities each contain more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia. The facilities have a combined inventory of more than 1.7 million pounds of anhydrous ammonia.
Refrigeration is a process in which work is done to move heat from one location to another. By 1900, the meat packing houses of Chicago had adopted ammonia-cycle commercial refrigeration. By 1914, almost every location used artificial refrigeration.
In addition to paying the fine for violating Clean Air Act regulations, Tyson has agreed to conduct pipe-testing and third-party audits of its ammonia refrigeration systems at 23 facilities in Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri. Those facilities include Kansas operations in Emporia, Finney County, Olathe, South Hutchinson and Hutchinson.
The EPA said their inspectors found multiple instances in which Tyson failed to comply with the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention provisions. Problems included failing to test or replace safety relief valves, improperly located gas-fired boilers, and failing to abide by reporting requirements.
The fatality happened in 2006. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) deployed an investigation team team to Tyson Foods, Inc. in South Hutchinson, Kansas.
Media reports indicate that a refrigeration line broke, releasing toxic ammonia gas. The exposure led to one worker fatality and serious injury of another worker.
Under the consent decree, Tyson will pay a $3.95 million penalty. Tyson has also agreed to implement a supplemental environmental project to purchase $300,000 worth of emergency response equipment for first responders in communities with significant environmental justice concerns in which Tyson operates facilities. The equipment will assist responses to emergencies involving chemicals that are regulated pursuant to the CAA Risk Management Program, including anhydrous ammonia.
For further information see Tyson Foods.
Absorption Fridge image via Wikipedia.