OSHA fines Pilgrim's for ammonia release

by MEAT+POULTRY Staff
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WACO, Texas – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed a $122,500 penalty against Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., a unit of Sao Paulo-based JBS SA, for a release of anhydrous ammonia at the poultry processor’s Waco plant in September 2015.

Greeley, Colorado-based Pilgrim’s received citations for two repeat and two serious violations under OSHA’s Process Safety Management Standards. The agency said Pilgrim’s failed to use proper safety procedures that would have prevented the release of 79 lbs. of anhydrous ammonia. OSHA said the release endangered workers at the Waco plant.

The citations for two repeat violations reference Pilgrim’s alleged failure to implement proper standard operating procedures with accurate information on safety systems and how they worked. OSHA said the company’s process hazard analysis — which is supposed to identify potential hazards relating to processing hazardous chemicals — failed to address issues in the plant. Inspectors with the agency also found that Pilgrim’s inspections and equipment testing were not completed as scheduled or documented as required. OSHA cited Pilgrim’s for the same or similar violations at poultry plants in in Nacogdoches in February 2015 and in De Queen, Arkansas in July 2013.

Pilgrim’s also was cited for failing to use proper methods to prevent over-pressurization and explosions in the system, and for placing the control and maintenance room facilities in the engine room for ammonia refrigeration.

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