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Kennewick Fertilizer Plant Issued $24,575 Penalty for Late Reporting of Hazardous Gas Release
Release Date: 5/23/2005
Contact Information: Suzanne Powers
May 23, 2005
EPA Settlement Includes Funding for New Emergency Notification Technology for Benton County
Kennewick, Washington – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that Agrium, U.S., Inc., has agreed to pay a penalty of $24,575 for failing to immediately notify authorities following a release of hazardous gas at its fertilizer plant in Kennewick. As part of the settlement, the company will also purchase an Alert Notification System worth $48,500 for the Benton County Local Emergency Response Committee.
Agrium uses nitrogen oxide gases in the manufacture of nitrogen-based fertilizer at its Kennewick plant. On August 1, 2004, the facility released approximately 1,337 pounds of nitrogen oxide gases into the air, creating a reddish-brown plume in the sky that resulted in over 100 calls to 911 by local citizens. Nitrogen oxide gases are considered hazardous and, at high enough levels, can damage the respiratory system and burn the eyes and skin.
The facility did not report the release to proper authorities until the following day, approximately 20 hours after it was discovered.
Federal laws require facilities that use and store hazardous chemicals to report releases immediately to the National Response Center, the State Emergency Response Commission, and the Local Emergency Planning Committee.
The settlement requires Agrium to purchase an Alert Notification System for Benton County that will allow emergency managers to automatically send alerts and instructions via telephone to people who may be affected by future chemical leaks or other hazards. This new system will give residents an immediate, reliable source of local emergency information.
- Region 10's Risk Management Program site (yosemite.epa.gov/R10/CLEANUP.NSF/sites/rmp)