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U.S. EPA and Central California company agree to settlement of $23,000 for risk management plan violation

Release Date: 10/05/2009
Contact Information: Nahal Mogharabi, 415/947-4307,

(San Francisco, Calif. -- 10/05/2009) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today agreed in a settlement of $23,000 with Pappas & Co. for failing to submit and update federal risk management plans for its anhydrous ammonia process for two of its produce packing facilities in Mendota, Calif.,-- a violation of the nation’s Clean Air Act.

Pappas & Co. submitted a risk management plan three years after bringing in more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia onto its facility located at 1431 Lyons Ave. The company also failed to submit an updated risk management plan for its 181 Naples Street location when it was due for a five-year update.

“It is crucial for companies to provide the EPA with these risk management plans in a timely manner,” said Daniel Meer, assistant director for the Pacific Southwest region’s Superfund program. “These plans are designed to guarantee that businesses do their part to safeguard the environment and impacted communities.”

In addition to the fine, Pappas & Co. will spend approximately $8,000 on two supplemental environmental projects. The company will donate a hand-held ammonia detector to the fire department with jurisdiction over the facilities. Also, the company will install an ammonia sensor outside of the Naples Street Facility. This sensor will be equipped with an automatic dialer that will alert the company and the fire department of any significant ammonia releases. This equipment will aid in the detection of toxic releases outside of the building to better protect staff and neighbors, which include a school located across the street.

The company must also employ a third-party refrigeration contractor that will automatically receive notification of an ammonia release to inform the appropriate emergency responders and facility managers.

Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia causes immediate burning of the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract. In severe cases, it can result in blindness, lung damage, or death.

When properly implemented, risk management plans help prevent chemical releases and minimize their potential impacts at facilities that store large amounts of hazardous substances and flammable chemicals. Facilities are required to update and resubmit their risk management plan at least once every five years, which is used by the EPA to assess chemical risks to surrounding communities and to prepare for emergency responses.

For information on the Clean Air Act/Risk Management Plan requirements, please visit the EPA’s Chemical Emergency Prevention and Preparedness Web site at:

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