PHILADELPHIA – Alleged violations handed down by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency against a dairy company over the handling of a hazardous chemical have been settled, and the amount is consistent with similar cases, the EPA says.
The EPA has fined Galliker Dairy Company a $35,991 penalty on grounds of failing to properly handle anhydrous ammonia used in its refrigeration system at its Johnson, Pennsylvania, manufacturing facility. The company produces a variety of milk, ice cream, iced tea and fruit juice products.
“The penalty is in line with what companies have paid for similar violations,” Bonnie Smith, press officer at the EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region, told the Pennsylvania Record.
The alleged violations occurred under the EPA’s Clean Air Act general duty clause, which dictates how facilities should handle hazardous substances. Under the act, companies are required to identify and assess the hazards of the substance in use, and design and maintain facilities around the regulation.
“It’s a company’s responsibility if they are using, producing or storing extremely hazardous substances to identify those potential hazards that may create accidental release of those substances and use industry standards to design these facilities to maintain a safer facility and to minimize the consequences of a release should it occur,” Smith said.
The idea behind the Clean Air Act is to prevent the release of hazardous chemicals into the air where they can hurt the environment, workers at the facility or the surrounding community. If an accidental release of a hazardous substance occurs, companies are to have a plan in place to minimize the consequences of such an accident.
“The bottom line is, industry standards are established to keep people safe and continue to look to a facility with an eye toward preventing an accidental release, maintaining a safe facility, training their people and also being prepared to respond to minimize the consequences if a release occurs,” Smith said.
The EPA has reported that Galliker violated the requirements of the Clean Air Act with its anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system that failed to comply with industry safety standards. The violations alleged against Galliker included deficiencies in training, maintenance documentation, detector settings, personal protective equipment and protection of the system.
While the EPA has fined Galliker, the company hasn’t admitted liability for the alleged violations as part of the settlement. The company has corrected all of the problem areas that alleged violations related to and documented its compliance.
“Facilities that manage or store hazardous substances have a responsibility to protect their workers, to protect emergency responders, protect the community and the environment,” Smith said. “That’s why these laws are in place.”
The EPA performs inspections at facilities that it has identified as using large quantities of a regulated substance, as being in a large population that would be affected by a chemical release, and as having a history of past violations. Companies are required to submit a risk management plan if they handle, store or manage any of the substances regulated by the EPA.
“Companies are required to submit a risk management plan,” Smith said. “We’re aware of the companies that are required to do that and from there we establish an annual inspection prioritization. Every year it’s a very clear set of priorities.”