Respondent owns and operates a facility that produces, processes, handles, and/or stores a regulated extremely hazardous substance, anhydrous ammonia. The facility uses anhydrous ammonia in a closed-circuit refrigeration system to produce and store ice. Though the ice maker process runs continually, employees are not normally present at the facility outside of business hours. On March 15, 2016, at 22:53, the city Fire Department was notified of a potential release at the facility. Firefighters who responded to the facility believed there had been an anhydrous ammonia release and confirmed that ammonia was in the air by using atmospheric monitoring. The Fire Department notified Respondent's operations manager of the release from the facility. Respondent's employees came to the facility and worked with the Fire Department to stop the release. Following Fire Department protocol, firefighters donned HAZMAT suits to enter the Facility and shut down the compressor. Firefighters remained on site monitoring the air until 05:57 on March 16.

Following a root cause analysis, Respondent determined that a housing seal on a reciprocating compressor had failed, allowing the release. Respondent calculated a release of 51 pounds of anhydrous ammonia over 196 minutes.

Following its analysis, Respondent replaced the faulty compressor and implemented additional improvements to the process and increased inspection regularity. By failing to identify or prevent the warped seal and then allowing the process to run interrupted as it released anhydrous ammonia, Respondent violated the requirement of CAA § 113(r)(1) for owners and operators of stationary sources to design and maintain a safe facility, taking such steps as are necessary to prevent releases.

 

CIVIL PENALTY AND TERMS OF SETTLEMENT

Upon consideration of the entire record herein and upon consideration of the size of the business, the economic impact of the penalty on the business, the violator's full compliance history and good faith efforts to comply, the duration of the violation, payment by the violator of penalties previously assessed for the same violation, the economic benefit of noncompliance, the seriousness of the violation, specific facts and equities, litigation risks, and other factors as justice may require, the parties agree that $40,000 is an appropriate penalty to resolve this matter.

 

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