BPI fined $450,000 for ammonia spill
LENEXA, Kan. – Beef Products Inc. agreed to pay a $450,000 civil fine to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at its Waterloo, Iowa, facility, the Environmental Protection Agency reported April 23.
The settlement is part of a consent decree filed in US District Court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and it stems from an incident in 2007 at the company's now-closed Waterloo facility. More than 1,000 lbs. of anhydrous ammonia was released into a production area where BPI employees were working. Two workers were trapped, resulting in the death of one worker and the permanent disability of another. EPA said BPI directed its employees to enter the facility while dangerous levels of anhydrous ammonia were present.
A subsequent EPA investigation found that BPI did have a risk management program, but failed to implement it at the Waterloo plant, contributing to the 2007 incident.
As part of a consent decree, BPI agreed to conduct third-party audits of its compliance with the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program requirements at the company’s South Sioux City, Neb., facility. BPI has 90 days to submit a plan to EPA that will correct identified violations within one year.
“The implementation of a risk-management program is integral to the safe operation of facilities where anhydrous ammonia is used,” said Karl Brooks, regional administrator. “The 2007 incident in Waterloo demonstrates that having a plan only on paper increases the risk of accidental exposure to both employees and first responders.”