SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an agreement with Anheuser-Busch, LLC that resolves violations of the chemical accident prevention requirements of the Clean Air Act and the Emergency Planning and Right to Information of the Community. Anheuser-Busch will pay $537,000 in fines and implement a comprehensive safety review of its eleven breweries that use anhydrous ammonia. The security review will be conducted at facilities located in New Hampshire, California, Colorado, Texas, Ohio, Florida, New York, Virginia, Georgia, and Missouri.
“This agreement will help protect workers and the local community near Anheuser-Busch’s Fairfield, California facility by requiring key updates to the brewery’s health and safety practices.” said Martha Guzmán, EPA’s Pacific Southwest regional administrator. “EPA is committed to holding companies accountable if they do not adequately prepare to prevent chemical accidents, especially for hazardous chemicals like anhydrous ammonia.”
Between 2016 and 2019, EPA conducted inspections at three of Anheuser-Busch’s facilities located in Merrimack, NH; strong collins, CO; and Fairfield, CA. The EPA also investigated an ammonia release that occurred in 2018 at Anheuser-Busch’s Fort Collins facility that injured two employees.
Under the agreement, Anheuser-Busch must hire an independent third-party expert to perform a safety review at each of its 11 flagship breweries across the country that use anhydrous ammonia in accordance with two of the most recent and comprehensive industry standards. refrigeration with ammonia and issue recommended actions based on those reviews. Anheuser-Busch must also develop and implement corrective action plans based on those reviews. These terms will provide greater protection to approximately 172,000 people in the communities surrounding Anheuser-Busch facilities.
Many of the EPA’s allegations for all three facilities relate to Anheuser-Busch’s failure to follow recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices. For more than 50 years, the ammonia refrigeration industry has published standards, codes and guides that describe measures to help prevent and mitigate accidental releases of ammonia. These standards apply layers of protection to make facilities more secure and are regularly updated to keep up with improving technology, newly identified hazards, industry operating experience, and/or incidents that indicate a need for them. tighter hazard controls. In addition, emissions reporting requirements and compliance with community right-to-know laws provide emergency services with critical information needed for a safe response. By enforcing recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices under the Clean Air Act’s chemical accident prevention regulations, EPA observes these industry standards with care to design and operate a safe ammonia refrigeration system.
Anhydrous ammonia is an efficient refrigerant with a low global warming potential, but it must be handled with care because it is corrosive to the skin, eyes, and lungs. There are approximately 120 catastrophic accidents nationwide annually at facilities that manufacture, use, or store extremely hazardous substances. These accidents result in deaths and serious injuries, evacuations, and other damage to human health and the environment. EPA inspects these facilities as part of the Agency’s National Enforcement and Compliance Initiative, which seeks to reduce risk to human health and the environment by decreasing the likelihood of accidental releases and mitigating the consequences of chemical accidents.
Additional information about EPA Compliance for Anhydrous Ammonia in Refrigeration Facilities.
Find information about chemical accident prevention requirements under the Clean Air Act.
More information about Community Right to Information and Emergency Planning Act.
More information about EPA National Enforcement and Compliance Initiative – Reducing Accidental Releases at Industrial and Chemical Facilities.
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