EPA fines Unalaska seafood cold storage facility

Seattle-based Kloosterboer Dutch Harbor LLC. has reached a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the release of 125 pounds of anhydrous ammonia from a leaking line inside the facility’s freezer at Unalaska back on Dec. 3, 2016.

The company reported the release of the pungent gas to the National Response Center and the Alaska Emergency Response Commission on Dec. 5, more than 46 hours after the incident occurred.

One facility worker was seriously injured in the incident. Even small amounts of anhydrous ammonia can cause burning of the eyes, nose and throat, and exposure to high levels of the gas can cause death from a swollen throat or from chemical burns in the lungs.

The company has agreed to complete supplemental environmental projects valued at some $26,000, to help prevent or reduce future ammonia releases and improve safety at the facility.  The company will also pay a $10,008 penalty, the EPA said on Nov. 7.

Kloosterboer also agreed to 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.

“Federal emergency planning, reporting and response requirements are important for protecting workers, emergency responders and the community,” said Ed Kowalski, director of EPA Region 10’s compliance and enforcement division in Seattle.

“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,” he said.