EPA fines local company for minor violations

EPA fines eight California facilities $18,780 and requires improved chemical safety to comply with Clean Air Act


SAN FRANCISCO – A local company was fined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week over minor violations of the federal Clean Air Act’s chemical safety requirements.

On Sept. 24, the EPA announced settlements with eight industrial facilities in California, including Visalia-based California Dairies, Inc.’s facility in Fresno.  The agreements were reached under EPA’s expedited settlements policy, which is only used in certain circumstances to address minor, easily correctable violations.  The companies have corrected the violations and paid fines totaling $18,780. California Dairies, Inc. was fined $3,600.

“Ensuring facilities maintain an updated Risk Management Plan is critical,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker.  “These actions ensure that facilities handling dangerous materials are minimizing potential impacts to the environment and the surrounding community.”

EPA inspections found the eight companies violated the Clean Air Act’s Chemical Accident Prevention regulations by failing to review and update facility Risk Management Plans; failing to design and maintain safe facilities; failing to conduct periodic compliance self-audits; failing to use updated population data in consequence analysis; or failing to post information on hazardous substances for employees.

The list of industrial operations also included: Foster Farms Belgravia Plant in Fresno, $6,600; The Wine Group in Ripon, $2,400; Ratto Bros. Inc. in Salida, $600; 6th Street Cooling in Holtville, $1,620; JR Simplot Company’s Helm Plant in Helm, $1,800; California Resource Production Corp., Grubb Lease Gas Plant in Ventura, $1,600; and Compton Ag Services LLC in Blythe, $2,000.

The Clean Air Act’s General Duty Clause requires owners and operators of certain industrial sites to design and maintain safe facilities and minimize the consequences of releases.  Facilities with significant quantities of toxic substances must develop and implement a Chemical Accident Prevention or Risk Management Program.

When properly implemented, risk management plans help prevent chemical releases and minimize their potential impacts at facilities that store large amounts of hazardous substances and flammable chemicals. Facilities are required to update and resubmit their risk management plans at least once every five years. The plans are used by EPA to assess chemical risks to surrounding communities and to prepare for emergency responses.

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