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Hazardous chemical reporting roundup: EPA settles Chicago and Wisconsin cases, cites Minnesota company

Release Date: 02/02/2006
Contact Information: Mick Hans, (312) 353-5050

No. 06-OPA020

CHICAGO (Feb. 2, 2006) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 recently settled administrative cases involving hazardous chemical release reporting violations in Chicago and Antigo, Wis., and filed a new case against a New Ulm, Minn., company.

All three cases involved anhydrous ammonia, which is commonly used in commercial refrigeration systems. The chemical causes burns to the skin and irritation to the eyes, nose and throat and may be fatal if inhaled for long periods of time. Anhydrous ammonia releases greater than 100 pounds must be immediately reported.

"Federal law requires immediate notification to the National Response Center for chemical releases above certain thresholds," said Richard Karl, Regional EPA Superfund Division Director. "The NRC activates the appropriate response authorities. Responders need to know what they're dealing with so they can take steps to protect people living or working in the area."

Lang Ice Co., 3600 W. 59th St., Chicago, paid $34,918 to resolve EPA's notice of violations for failure to provide immediate notification to the NRC of a 4,791-pound release of anhydrous ammonia April 15, 2004. A required follow-up report was also filed late, 29 days after the incident. The release was caused by an ice-making machine malfunction, which caused a rupture in a refrigeration hot gas line. A Chicago Fire Department hazardous materials team responded to the incident.

Antigo Cheese Company, 201 Morse St., Antigo, paid $20,000 to resolve EPA's notice of violations for failure to immediately notify the NRC and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources of a 2,000-pound release of anhydrous ammonia Oct. 28, 2001. The release was caused by a broken compressor crank shaft on the company's refrigeration system. As part of the settlement, Antigo will also conduct an environmental project valued at $82,810. The company will install a system to control the amount and timing of acidic wastewater released to the municipal water treatment system.

In the new case, EPA proposed an $88,400 civil penalty against Associated Milk Producers, 315 Broadway, New Ulm. The company was cited for failure to immediately notify the NRC of a 3,873-pound anhydrous ammonia release during a fire at the facility Dec. 1, 2004. EPA alleges that the company did not contact the NRC for more than five hours after it knew of the release. A required follow-up report was also filed late, 80 days after the release.

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