The settlement under the Clean Air Act regulations in Waterloo, Iowa stems from a 2007 incident at the now-closed facility that released more than 1,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia into a production area occupied by BPI workers.
The anhydrous ammonia trapped two BPI employees resulting in the permanent disability of one worker and the death of the other.
During the response to the release, BPI directed its employees to enter the facility while dangerous levels of airborne anhydrous ammonia remained present.
Anhydrous ammonia is considered a poisonous gas but is commonly used in industrial refrigeration systems.
BPI will conduct third-party audits of its compliance with the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program requirements at its South Sioux City, Nebraska, facility as part of a consent decree lodged in US District Court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
BPI will then have 90 days to submit a plan to EPA that will correct identified violations within one year.
After the 2007 incident, EPA gathered information about the release and facility operations through information requests and an inspection.
Failure to implement risk management program
EPA determined that BPI did have a risk management program on paper, but failed to implement the program at the facility, contributing to the incident.
“The implementation of a risk management program is integral to the safe operation of facilities where anhydrous ammonia is used,” Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said.
“The 2007 incident in Waterloo demonstrates that having a plan only on paper increases the risk of accidental exposure to both employees and first responders.”
The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.
Beef Products Inc was also one of the firms at the centre of the lean finely textured beef or “pink slime” media storm which resulted in three plants shutting down, 700 people out of work and lawsuits which are still ongoing.