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Federal EPA fines Fresno Producers Dairy Foods Inc. facility $115,000

Federal EPA fines Fresno Producers Dairy Foods Inc. facility $115,000

@TheSunGazette

FRESNO – One major Valley business is going to fork over some green for serious risk and safety violations.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a settlement with Producers Dairy Foods Inc. over chemical safety and risk management violations at its facility in Fresno. Producers Dairy Foods, one of the largest family-owned and operated dairies in the West, has agreed to pay a $89,960 civil penalty and make improvements to its risk management practices. In addition, the company will purchase more than $26,000 in emergency response equipment for the Fresno City Fire Department.

This case is part of EPA’s National Compliance Initiative to reduce risks of accidental releases at anhydrous ammonia refrigeration facilities. Producers Dairy Foods’ industrial refrigeration system uses large quantities of anhydrous ammonia, a toxic chemical highly corrosive to skin, eyes and lungs.

“We’re pleased to resolve these safety issues with Producers Dairy Foods and will continue to work with the business community to improve risk-management practices and promote the safety of nearby communities,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “Through this settlement, our local first responders will receive much needed emergency response equipment to protect the City of Fresno.”

In 2018, EPA inspectors found violations of the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan regulations at the Fresno facility. The violations included deficiencies in the plant’s process safety information, pipe labeling, operating procedures, mechanical integrity program, and follow-up on compliance audits findings. The company also failed to submit annual chemical inventory on the amount of ammonia at the facility, in violation of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

In addition to the penalty, Producers Dairy Foods is required to complete a supplemental environmental project to purchase and provide approximately $26,300 worth of emergency response instruments, including protective, communications, and rescue equipment to the Fresno City Fire Department. This equipment will improve the department’s ability to respond to a hazardous materials emergency such as an ammonia release.

The Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program requires facilities with regulated hazardous substances to document hazard assessments detailing the potential effects of an accidental release and a prevention program that includes safety precautions and maintenance, monitoring, and employee training measures. When properly implemented, risk management plans help prevent chemical releases and minimize their potential impacts at facilities that store large amounts of hazardous substances or flammable chemicals.

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