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Clean Air Act, CERCLA, and EPCRA Fines for Food Processor

Posted on 6/21/2016 by Roger Marks

For alleged violations of multiple US environmental laws and regulations stemming from a release of anhydrous ammonia, a bakery and distribution company in Chelsea and Lawrence, MA will pay $156,000 in civil penalties.

In addition to the fine, the company will furnish emergency response equipment to local emergency responders, at an estimated cost of $119,000. According to a US EPA press release, a release of about 2,000 lbs. of anhydrous ammonia from refrigeration equipment caused local authorities to issue a shelter-in-place order for the community and resulted in one emergency responder being sent to the hospital for medical treatment.

Clean Air Act General Duty Clause

Found in §112(r)(1) of the Clean Air Act, the “General Duty Clause” requires businesses that use hazardous chemicals to design and maintain their facilities to prevent accidental releases and minimize the consequences of releases that do occur. The General Duty Clause was enacted when Congress passed the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.

Want to know more about the Clean Air Act? Check out the new Clean Air Act Online Course here.



EPCRA and CERCLA Reporting Violations

On top of the Clean Air Act noncompliance issues addressed above, the company also failed to meet certain US EPA reporting requirements for hazardous chemicals. Namely, the facilities did not:
  • Meet reporting obligations for facilities that store large volumes of certain hazardous chemicals under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA); and
  • Report a release of a hazardous chemical as required under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).
Refrigerant tank with pressure gauge

Know Your EPA Responsibilities


When you manage and use hazardous chemicals, even accidental releases can reveal a long list of compliance issues, like it did in this case. Be sure you know ALL the environmental requirements that apply to what you do and the chemicals you use. The Complete Environmental Regulations Workshop is designed to help you identify the rules that apply to your operations and make a plan to achieve full compliance. Learn how to find fast answers to compliance questions in the 40 CFR regulations and protect your site from EPA fines as high as $37,500 per day, per violation.

Tags: CERCLA, Clean Air Act, EPA, EPCRA

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