Tyson Foods, Inc will pay more than $3.9 million in a civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, according to the EPA. The Environmental Protection Agency says a settlement has been reached stemming from a series of eight separate incidents between 2006 and 2010 in which anhydrous ammonia was released at Tyson facilities. One of the incidents was fatal.
As a part of the settlement, the EPA says Tyson has agreed to conduct pipe-testing of its ammonia refrigeration systems to improve compliance with the Clean Air Act. EPA officials say Tyson has also agreed to spend at least $300,000 as part of a Supplemental Environmental Project. $16,630 of that amount will be used to purchase anhydrous ammonia related emergency response equipment for the fire department in Dakota City, Nebraska.
Anhydrous ammonia is considered a poisonous gas but is commonly used in industrial refrigeration systems. Exposure to its vapors can cause temporary blindness and eye damage and irritation of the skin, mouth, throat, respiratory tract and mucous membranes. Prolonged exposure to anhydrous ammonia vapor at high concentrations can lead to serious lung damage and death.
In a statement, Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson says the company has
worked with the EPA to resolve concerns over the maintenance of
refrigeration systems at Tyson plants. Kevin Igli, Tyson's chief
Environmental, Health and Safety Officer, says the company, "strives to
operate our facilities responsibly."
After learning of the EPA's
concerns, Igli says Tyson "immediately made improvements and cooperated
with EPA officials throughout the process."
The settlement between Tyson and the EPA still must go through a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.
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