Saputo Cheese was fined $170,000 by the EPA in a settlement. It is also closing one processing facility in Tulare but renovating two others. Photo contributed
Written by The Business Journal Staff
A Tulare cheesemaker reached a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency regarding Clean Air Act violations.
Saputo Cheese agreed to pay $170,000 and make safety improvements to its facility in response to an accident in June 2018 that led to the release of 5,690 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, according to a press release from the EPA.
In 2019, an inspection by the EPA found that the company did not fix corrosion on piping and structural supports and did not show that safety vents met industry standards. The EPA also claimed that the company did not accurately report how much ammonia it manages and did not comply with safety requirements for accidental releases.
Anhydrous ammonia can cause serious health effects when released. There are potential impacts through inhalation or skin contact. The substance is also highly flammable.
Since the inspection, the facility has addressed the issues, according to the release.
Montreal, Canada-based Saputo manufactures mozzarella cheese and whey protein. In February, the company announced it would close one of its facilities in Tulare in 2023. At the same time, a press release from the company reported it would invest $169 million to modernize its other facilities in Wisconsin and California. Saputo operates two other facilities in Tulare County.