EPA Settles Chemical Accident Prevention Case in New Bedford

Date: 21 March 2024
EPA Settles Chemical Accident Prevention Case in New Bedford
EPA announced a proposed consent agreement and final order (CAFO) that will settle EPA's administrative enforcement case against Northern Wind, LLC (Northern Wind) for alleged violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and the Clean Air Act's chemical accident prevention requirements.

Under the proposed CAFO, Northern Wind will pay a settlement penalty of $72,000.

Northern Wind is a private company that primarily engages in the storage and wholesale distribution of fresh and frozen seafood products. The company operates a cold storage warehouse and distribution center at 75 MacArthur Drive, New Bedford, Mass (Facility) that uses anhydrous ammonia as a refrigerant to maintain appropriate temperatures for the storage of seafood products.

On August 4, 2020, an accidental release of anhydrous ammonia occurred at the Facility. The building was evacuated (12 employees), and no injuries were reported. The ammonia leaked from a faulty isolation valve on the drain of the pilot receiver.

Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act: EPA alleges that Northern Wind violated EPCRA Section 312 by failing to timely submit the required Tier 2 form for anhydrous ammonia to the local emergency planning committee, the state emergency response commission, and the local fire department for calendar year 2019. That year, Northern Wind's Facility stored at least 1,050 pounds of anhydrous ammonia (the Tier 2 reporting threshold for ammonia is 500 pounds). The Facility's Tier 2 report for anhydrous ammonia was due by March 1 of 2020. Northern Wind filed the missing report on August 10, 2020.

Clean Air Act 112(r)(1): EPA alleges that Northern Wind violated the General Duty Clause of the Clean Air Act by failing to properly identify hazards that may result from accidental releases of anhydrous ammonia using appropriate, industry recognized hazard assessment techniques. After being notified of the violation, Northern Wind completed a process hazard review in September 2020.
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