The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday announced a settlement with Praxair Inc. — now known as Linde Inc. — for violating federal chemical release prevention and reporting requirements at its carbon dioxide liquification plant.
The company will pay a $127,000 civil penalty and make safety improvements to its Carson facility to protect the public and first responders from dangerous chemicals. The facility stores and distributes anhydrous ammonia and other chemicals. Exposure to high concentrations of anhydrous ammonia can lead to serious lung damage and even death.
“Reducing risks from accidental releases of hazardous substances at industrial and chemical facilities is a top priority for EPA,” said Amy Miller, EPA Pacific Southwest regional director of enforcement and compliance assurance. “It is very important for facilities that store dangerous materials like anhydrous ammonia to understand the risks of this hazardous chemical and maintain a safe operation.”
Following a release of anhydrous ammonia in January 2019, Praxair failed to immediately notify the National Response Center, in violation of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, ultimately reporting the release several hours after it occurred, according to the EPA.
The federal officials also found that Praxair violated multiple chemical accident prevention provisions of the Clean Air Act, which requires that facilities storing more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia are properly designed, operated and maintained to minimize the risk of an accidental release.
In addition, the EPA found that Praxair failed to properly label the facility’s process and emergency equipment, have proper emergency controls, replace damaged or missing insulation, properly seal doors, and protect electrical equipment with proper coverings.
Thousands of facilities nationwide make, use and store extremely hazardous substances, including anhydrous ammonia. Catastrophic accidents at these facilities — historically about 150 each year — result in fatalities and serious injuries, evacuations, and other harm to human health and the environment, officials said.
The EPA said it inspected the Praxair facility as part of the agency’s National Compliance Initiative.