Chem Co. fined for Poor Risk Management Plan

Monday, February 18, 2013 @ 11:02 AM gHale

Koch Nitrogen Co. LLC will pay a $380,000 penalty for not having proper risk management plans at its plant in Webster County, IA, and two other Midwestern facilities, said officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

”This entire enforcement action revolves around the fact they had not developed a proper risk management plan,” EPA spokesman Ben Washburn said. ”It’s not about any release or spill.”

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The EPA reported its inspectors found violations at the anhydrous ammonia plant east of Fort Dodge, IA, a similar facility in Dodge City, Kan., and a pipeline terminal in Marshalltown.

”Koch Nitrogen worked cooperatively with the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fully resolve these issues,” said Paul Baltzer, a company spokesman, ”We believe the dialogue has been constructive and that both sides benefited and learned from the discussions. The resulting settlement reflects the strong protections we provide in our facility risk management programs.”

EPA inspectors found these violations in 2007 and 2009.

An EPA statement issued last week does not specify which violations were at each of the three facilities.

The $380,000 payment is a civil penalty, according to the EPA statement.

Although the company remained accused of failing to adequately coordinate with emergency responders, it has been cooperative with local units, said Tony Jorgensen, the Webster County emergency management coordinator. Jorgensen said the company permitted a full-scale training exercise that included multiple fire departments, the sheriff’s department and the county health department to be held at the plant a couple years ago. He added he has a copy of the plant’s emergency action plan.

”They have trained and worked with our local first responders,” he said. ”I do know that they have worked with the local emergency planning commission, which is the policy arm of the hazmat team.”

At the plant, natural gas and air combine to produce anhydrous ammonia. Most of that anhydrous ammonia further refines to produce UAN Solution, a fertilizer which is 32 percent nitrogen.

The plant can make 1,000 tons of anhydrous ammonia and 1,800 tons of UAN Solution every day.

The company is in the process of building a $10 million control center. In addition, the company invested about $60 million in the site over the last three years.

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