Sunshine Pride Dairy Inc. will pay a $179,074 penalty to settle alleged federal environmental violations at its former cheese processing facility in Winchester, Va. The dairy shut down cheese-processing operations in December 2011, but it left anhydrous ammonia stored in its refrigeration system with only a skeleton maintenance crew at the facility.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency alleged that in July 2012, the facility did not properly notify emergency response agencies about two instances when anhydrous ammonia was released into the air. These included one release of between 100 and 500 pounds and another of more than 1,500 pounds. After the second release, Sunshine Pride Dairy had the remaining anhydrous ammonia drained from the system.

EPA cited the company for not updating its operating procedures to reflect current conditions at the facility, failing to document proper training of its operators, and failing to maintain its ammonia processing equipment. In addition, EPA also alleged that the dairy did not report the ammonia to the state, county and local fire department as required on its annual chemical reporting forms for the years 2012 and 2013.

The settlement announced July 21 resolves alleged violations under three federal statutes:

  • Failing to maintain risk management obligations required under the Clean Air Act Section 112(r)
  • Failing to comply with community right-to-know reporting requirements
  • Failing to report releases to the National Response Center, as required by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act

In a separate enforcement action, Galliker Dairy Co. has agreed to pay a $35,991 penalty to settle with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over claims that Galliker failed to safely manage anhydrous ammonia at its dairy products manufacturing plant in Johnstown, Pa.

EPA cited Galliker Dairy for not safely managing the anhydrous ammonia used in its refrigeration system. The company federal Clean Air Act’s general duty clause by failing to ensure that the design and maintenance of the anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system was consistent with industry safety standards. These violations include deficiencies in training, maintenance documentation, detector/alarm settings, personal protective equipment, and protection of the system.

Under the general-duty clause, facilities with hazardous substances such as anhydrous ammonia are required to identify and assess the hazards posed by the substances, design and maintain a safe facility, to prevent accidental releases to the air, and minimize the consequence of accidental releases if they occur.

EPA announced the Galliker settlement on July 20.