Ammonia Release Leaves Bad Taste in EPA's Mouth

John Morrell & Co. of Springdale, Ohio, agrees to pay a fine and fund environmental projects costing $253,411 for violating federal laws on the reporting of hazardous chemical releases.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 settled an administrative complaint with John Morrell and Co. in Springdale, Ohio, for violation of federal laws on the reporting of hazardous chemical releases. The company will pay a civil penalty of $20,811 and fund environmental projects valued at $253,411.

EPA alleged that on Oct. 22, 2000, Morrell failed to promptly report a 3,000-pound release of anhydrous ammonia from a 30,000-pound refrigeration system at its pork processing plant, 801 E. Kemper Road in Hamilton County.

Anhydrous ammonia may be fatal if inhaled for prolonged periods of time. It causes burns to the skin and eyes and may cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat. All releases of anhydrous ammonia above 100 pounds must be promptly reported to the National Response Center and to the state and local emergency planning committees.

Morrell reported the incident about four hours after discovering the situation and to the Ohio emergency response planning commission about 31 hours later. The company never notified the Hamilton County emergency planning committee.

The settlement includes a supplemental environmental project valued at $253,411. Morrell will replace seven smokehouse-flavoring generators with a new super-heated smoke generator. The company will also purchase seven water scrubbers. The new equipment is designed to remove more than 80 percent of the volatile organic compounds and formaldehyde and more than 90 percent of the hydrocarbon pollution currently being emitted from Morrell's smoke generators.

Edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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