HAYWARD, Calif. – Columbus Foods detailed its plans to update the company's refrigeration system following an announcement that Columbus Foods had reached a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The company said the reconfigured ammonia refrigeration system at its South San Francisco facility will cost about $7 million and will exceed EPA Clean Air Act standards. The system will have state-of-the-art hardware and controls technology. Safeguards include secondary containment and an air scrubbing system, and a complex sequence for leak detection, alarm and notification. The refrigeration system and ammonia charge will be fully contained in an enclosed building, which will further ensure control of the ammonia gases.
The upgrades are part of a settlement, which stems from leaks of anhydrous ammonia in February 2009 and August 2009 at the facility. Seventeen people were hospitalized after exposure to the toxic cloud. As part of the settlement, Columbus will also pay a penalty of $685,446 in addition to the facility upgrades.
Columbus Foods said the facility has been operational since 1967, and acts as the company's primary manufacturing plant where a collection of traditional and artisan salumi and premium deli meats are made. In 2012, the Columbus Foods will produce approximately 22 million pounds of specialty meats, according to the company. The facility operates five to seven days a week based on demand, and employs up to 150 people.