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Anhydrous Ammonia Violations Result in RMP and PSM Enforcement – Focus on Mechanical Integrity

EPA and OSHA continue to target companies that store and use the industrial refrigerant anhydrous ammonia as reflected in recent EPA Risk Management Plan (RMP) enforcement and OSHA enforcement of the Process Safety Management (PSM) regulations. Failures in the Mechanical Integrity requirements were prevalent in both enforcement cases.

Two facilities in Missouri owned by Dyno Nobel Inc. recently settled RMP violations with EPA Region 7 for $257,167, as part of a larger settlement that also included CERCLA and EPCRA violations. RMP violations settled in the Consent Agreement and Final Order include the following:

  • Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) – 40 CFR 68.67 – failure to address the consequences of the failure of administrative controls used in the process;
  • PHA – failure to document the resolution of the findings and recommendations;
  • PHA – failure to update and revalidate the PHAs at least every 5 years;
  • Mechanical Integrity (MI) – 40 CFR 68.73 – failure to perform inspections and tests on all process equipment;
  • MI – failure to follow recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices (RAGAGEP) when performing inspections and tests on process equipment; and
  • MI – failure to document each inspection and test that has been performed on process equipment.

In a separate enforcement case, OSHA Region 7 has cited Nebraska Cold Storage, Inc. for 14 citations and is seeking a $132,800 penalty for violations of the PSM program among other violations. OSHA’s citation includes 4 willful violations associated with:

  • Operating Procedures;
  • Mechanical Integrity; and
  • Triennial Audits.

Anhydrous ammonia is frequently used as a refrigerant in food production, distribution, and warehousing operations. In addition, it serves as a common farm fertilizer sold by farm supply companies, farm cooperatives (co-ops), and related agricultural businesses. In particular, companies that store more than 10,000 lbs. of anhydrous ammonia are required to comply with the RMP regulations and OSHA’s PSM program.

Businesses with commercial refrigeration systems that use and store the refrigerant anhydrous ammonia, such as cold storage, retail grocers, wholesale food distribution, and related warehousing and transportation companies, continue to face enforcement scrutiny from EPA regarding RMP.

Spencer Fane’s Andrew Brought frequently presents on topics associated with chemical accident prevention and preparation including EPA’s RMP Program, OSHA’s PSM Program, and OSHA’s general duty clause. A copy of Mr. Brought’s presentation on the Clean Air Act 112(r) RMP Enforcement to the Kansas City Chapter of the Air and Waste Management Association can be found here.