Seattle – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10, has reached a settlement with Kloosterboer Dutch Harbor LLC, a Seattle-based company that operates a seafood cold storage facility in Unalaska, Alaska, for violations related to an ammonia release last year that seriously injured one of the facility’s workers. Kloosterboer’s failure to provide timely information about the ammonia release also put first responders at risk.
Under the terms of its agreement with the EPA, Kloosterboer will upgrade the facility’s computerized refrigeration control system to help prevent future releases and reduce the amount of ammonia leaked in the event of a release. The upgraded system will use leak detectors to monitor ammonia levels in the freezer and send signals to the computerized control system if ammonia levels reach preset concentrations. If an ammonia leak occurs, the control system will notify operators and managers via audible and visual alarms in the facility, automatically shut off the ammonia pumps, and activate the emergency exhaust system.
The company will also purchase hazmat emergency response equipment for Unalaska’s Department of Public Safety and train two of the company’s personnel to respond to hazmat emergencies at the facility and other facilities in the community.
Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA’s Region 10 Compliance and Enforcement Division in Seattle:
“Federal emergency planning, reporting and response requirements are important for protecting workers, emergency responders and the community. The company’s failure to provide timely information, crucial in an emergency response, put their workers, first responders and the public at risk. Early notification plays a critical role in getting resources and personnel mobilized, which can make all the difference in reducing harm to people and the environment.”
Kloosterboer has agreed to complete supplemental environmental projects, valued at approximately $26,000, which will help prevent or reduce future ammonia releases and improve safety at the facility. The company will also pay a $10,008 penalty.
On December 3, 2016, Kloosterboer’s Unalaska facility released 125 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, which attacks skin, eyes, throat and lungs and can cause serious injury or death, to the environment from a leaking line inside the facility’s freezer. The company reported the release to the National Response Center and the Alaska Emergency Response Commission on December 5, more than 46 hours after the release occurred.
The company also failed to submit a follow-up notification to the Local Emergency Planning Committee.
The release and emergency reporting delays violated the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).
This case underscores the importance of timely reporting of hazardous releases to the National Response Center 24-hour hotline: 1-800-424-8802.
More information on EPA’s Emergency Response program: https://www.epa.gov/emergency-response.
Report environmental violation tips and complaints at: www.epa.gov/tips
Environmental Protection Agency
Suzanne Skadowski, U.S. EPA