July 27, 2022
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with Grimmway Enterprises, Inc. for violations of the Clean Air Act and the emergency notification-related requirements of two other federal laws at its Arvin, California, facility. The company will pay $214,103 in civil penalties. This settlement helps protect the public, facility staff, and first responders from chemical accidents.
On August 2, 2019, approximately 2,335 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, which is designated as an Extremely Hazardous Substance, were released at Grimmway’s Arvin facility. A subsequent EPA inspection found Grimmway failed to notify state emergency authorities and the National Response Center immediately after the release. The inspection also revealed that Grimmway did not have required safety information for equipment, such as pressure relief valves; lacked required safety equipment, such as chlorine sensors or alarms; was missing some required operating procedures for its ammonia refrigeration equipment; and failed to have procedures in place to notify the appropriate agencies about chemical releases.
“It is paramount that facilities properly manage extremely hazardous substances to prevent dangerous incidents or face significant Clean Air Act penalties,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “When these incidents occur, first responders need to be notified immediately to ensure authorities are able to respond swiftly.”
Today’s settlement relates to violations of the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program as well as the reporting requirements of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. In response to EPA’s enforcement action, Grimmway returned to compliance and agreed to pay the civil penalty.
This settlement advances EPA efforts to enforce environmental regulations that protect citizens from harmful releases of extremely hazardous substances, especially in communities that may already experience disproportionate environmental risks. Grimmway’s facility is in a community that is disproportionally affected by environmental burdens, and incidents like this raise significant environmental justice concerns.
About Anhydrous Ammonia
Thousands of facilities nationwide make, use, and store extremely hazardous substances, including anhydrous ammonia. Anhydrous ammonia can cause serious, often irreversible health effects when released. In addition to potential impacts from inhalation of or skin contact with this substance, it is highly flammable.
Catastrophic accidents at ammonia refrigeration facilities—historically about 150 each year—result in fatalities and serious injuries, evacuations, and other harm to human health and the environment. EPA inspects these facilities as part of the Agency’s National Compliance Initiative (NCI), which seeks to reduce risk to human health and the environment by decreasing the likelihood of accidental releases and mitigating the consequences of chemical accidents.
For more information on the section of the Clean Air Act relevant to this settlement, see EPA’s Clean Air Act Section 112(r): Accidental Release Prevention / Risk Management Plan Rule fact sheet.
National Compliance Initiative: Reducing Risks of Accidental Releases at Industrial and Chemical Facilitiesthe likelihood of chemical accidents at facilities nationwide, many of which are in environmental justice communities.
Visit EPA’s Report Environmental Violations website to report suspected infractions of environmental laws and regulations.
Learn more about EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. Connect with us on Facebook and on Twitter.