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EPA fines Super Store Industries for failing to notify response authorities after hazardous chemical release

Release Date: 09/29/2008
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, 415/947-4248,

Agency seeks $20,000 after delay in reporting ammonia leak

    SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently fined Super Store Industries $20,280 for failing to immediately notify the proper authorities after an ammonia release at its facility located at 199 Red Top Road in Fairfield, Calif..

    On Aug. 25, 2007, approximately 242 pounds of anhydrous ammonia leaked into the environment within a 24-hour period. The company notified the California Office of Emergency Services 11 hours later, the Solano County Health Services Division 33 hours later, and the National Response Center 93 days later.

    Federal law requires immediate notification of a reportable release in order for emergency response teams to evaluate the nature and extent of a hazardous substance release, prevent exposure and minimize consequences. The reportable quantity for ammonia is 100 pounds.

    “Companies put first responders and others at risk when they don’t immediately report toxic chemical releases,” said Dan Meer, the EPA’s Superfund associate director for the Pacific Southwest region. “This information needs to be provided quickly so that authorities can take the proper precautions in responding to an emergency.”

    An equipment failure in a refrigeration unit allowed the release of anhydrous ammonia. The company has since made modifications at the facility and changed notification procedures to ensure that any future accidental releases would be easier to curtail and immediately reported.

    Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia can cause severe burns on the skin, eyes, throat and lungs. Breathing low levels of ammonia can cause coughing, as well as nose and throat irritation. Ammonia also plays a role in the formation of particulate air pollution, which has been linked to numerous health problems, including chronic bronchitis and lung disease.

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