The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a Clean Air Act settlement with Tyson Foods Inc., Springdale, Ark., and several of its affiliate corporations to address threats of accidental chemical releases after anhydrous ammonia was released during incidents at facilities in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska, resulting in multiple injuries, property damage and one fatality.

Under the terms of the consent decree, Tyson is required to conduct third-party audits of its current compliance with the CAA’s Risk Management Program requirements at all 23 facilities in Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska. The third-party auditors must have expertise in ammonia refrigeration systems, be recognized experts in risk management program compliance, and be approved by EPA. Tyson must correct any violations discovered in the audits and certify completion of the work. Tyson also has agreed to test certain piping used in its refrigeration systems at the 23 facilities to identify any problems that may have led to accidental releases and to replace any noncompliant piping.

Under the consent decree, Tyson will pay a $3.95 million penalty. The company also has agreed to implement a supplemental environmental project to purchase $300,000 worth of emergency response equipment for first responders in communities where Tyson operates facilities that have significant environmental justice concerns.

The Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program requires owners and operators of facilities that exceed a threshold quantity of a regulated substance such as anhydrous ammonia to develop and implement a risk management plan that must be submitted to EPA. The 23 Tyson facilities named in the consent decree are subject to the regulations because refrigeration systems at the facilities each contain more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia. The facilities have a combined inventory of more than 1.7 million pounds of anhydrous ammonia.