U.S. EPA Fines BC Systems for Violating Chemical Accident Prevention Requirements at Arizona and California Facilities

Date: 02 January 2021
U.S. EPA Fines BC Systems for Violating Chemical Accident Prevention Requirements at Arizona and California Facilities

In December 2020, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with the corporation BC Systems/Fresh Express (BC Systems) to resolve violations of the federal Clean Air Act and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. BC Systems will pay a $186,975 civil penalty for violating chemical accident prevention requirements at the company’s storage and distribution facilities in Yuma, Arizona, and Salinas, California.

BC Systems industrial refrigeration systems use anhydrous ammonia, a toxic chemical highly corrosive to skin, eyes and lungs.

Several violations were found during EPA inspections in 2017 and 2018:

  • Failure to meet the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention requirements to safely manage anhydrous ammonia.
  • Failure to meet the Clean Air Act’s risk management program requirements for ammonia refrigeration system hazard review, pipe and instrument labeling, operating procedures, and maintaining mechanical integrity.
  • Failure to meet the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act requirements to accurately submit chemical inventory information regarding the ammonia to the States of Arizona and California and local emergency response agencies.

“Preventing accidental releases is paramount in our mission to protect human health and the environment,” said John Busterud, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the country’s Pacific Southwest. “This settlement ensures BC Systems takes appropriate steps to make its facilities safer for neighboring communities.”

In addition to paying the civil penalty as part of the settlement, BC Systems has addressed the violations at both facilities.

Thousands of facilities nationwide make, use and store extremely hazardous substances, including anhydrous ammonia. Catastrophic accidents at these facilities—historically about 150 each year—result in fatalities and serious injuries, evacuations, and other harm to human health and the environment. The BC System facilities were inspected as part of EPA’s National Compliance Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to reduce the risk to human health and the environment by decreasing the likelihood of accidental releases at facilities, such as anhydrous ammonia refrigeration facilities.

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