Feds Fine Fruit Firm for Haz Chem Storage

Monday, February 23, 2015 @ 04:02 PM gHale

A Yakima, WA, fruit company is facing a $65,700 fine for violating hazardous chemical reporting rules, federal officials said.

Although there were no reports of spills, Apple King kept anhydrous ammonia at its Gleed, WA, facility and failed to file a hazardous chemical inventory report in a timely fashion for the past four years, said officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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Such reports must end up filed with local fire departments and emergency response groups under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

Apple King owner and manager Ray Keller said the fine was a result of missing the filing deadlines, not failing to file entirely. He said they used anhydrous ammonia as a refrigerant for the cold storage facility for years and local emergency responders have always been aware of its presence, so the delayed filing caused no safety risk to the community.

EPA spokesman Mark MacIntyre said the fine was high because it represented four separate record-keeping violations. MacIntyre said the fines may seem large for record-keeping mistakes, but they show how important the law is to protect emergency responders from suffering exposure to hazardous chemicals if there is an accident at a facility. Keller also said the law is important and the company will make sure it meets the reporting deadlines going forward.

The EPA also fined a fertilizer manufacturer in Mattawa, Wind Flow Fertilizer Inc., $63,000 for failing to report 26 different hazardous chemicals at its facility for two years.

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