A settlement has been reached by federal authorities with Kloosterboer Dutch Harbor LLC, a Seattle-based firm that operates a seafood cold storage facility at Unalaska, Alaska, for violations related to an ammonia release last year that seriously injured a facility worker.
Kloosterboer has agreed to complete supplemental environmental projects, valued at about $26,000, which will help prevent or reduce future ammonia releases and improve safety at the facility, according to Region 10 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The company will also pay a $10,008 penalty to the federal agency.
Under terms of the settlement, Kloosterboer will upgrade its computerized refrigeration control system. 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 a leak occurs, the control system will notify operators and managers via audible and visual alarms, automatically shut off the ammonia pumps, and activate the emergency exhaust system.
Kloosterboer also agreed to purchase hazardous materials emergency response equipment for Unalaska’s Department of Public Safety and to train two of the company’s personnel to respond to hazmat emergencies at the facility and other facilities at Unalaska.
Ed Kowalski, director of EPA’s Region 10 compliance and enforcement division in Seattle, noted that 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,” he said.
The incident occurred on December 3, 2016 when Kloosterboer’s Unalaska facility released 125 pounds of anhydrous ammonia inside the facility’s freezer. Anhydrous ammonia is harmful to skin, eyes, throat and lungs and can cause serious injury or death.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 and failed to submit follow-up notification. 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).