Sanger Del Monte facility via Google Earth
Written by The Business Journal Staff
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has settled with Del Monte Fresh Produce (West Coast” Inc.) for violating federal chemical safety and reporting requirements following an ammonia release at its storage and distribution facility in Sanger.
The company, one of the world’s largest fresh produce distributors, is required to pay a $80,000 civil penalty and spend approximately $110,000 to reduce the risk of chemical accidents at its facility.
In December 2016, the EPA inspected the accidental facility after the accidental release of more than 24,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, finding violations of the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan regulations, including deficiencies in the plant’s hazard assessment, mechanical integrity program, compliance audits and emergency response program.
Inspectors also found that the company failed to immediately notify the National Response Center and the California Office of Emergency Services as soon as it knew of the release, violating the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.
“Ammonia releases put workers and nearby residents at risk,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “As a result of EPA’s inspection, we’re very pleased that Del Monte will invest in make the plant safer for all.”
The facility’s industrial refrigeration system uses large quantities of anhydrous ammonia, a toxic chemical highly corrosive to skin, eyes and lungs.
As part of the settlement, Del Monte will install two new pumps to reduce potential leaks and a new control system for its anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system, with automated controls and notification system.
The Sanger case is part of the EPA’s National Compliance Initiative to reduce risks of accidental releases at anhydrous ammonia refrigeration facilities.