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10.26.2015 Legal News

EPA Puts Refrigeration Firm on Ice

Millard Refrigerated Services Inc. learned the hard way that a company's failure to correct deficiencies in its processes can lead to significant consequences.  Following three releases to the atmosphere from 2007 to 2010, EPA cited Millard with 36 violations under the CAA, EPCRA, and CERCLA.  In 2010, the Alabama facility experienced hydraulic shock, a well-known hazard in the refrigeration industry, causing a pipe to fail and release 32,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia to the atmosphere.  Over a hundred people were hospitalized.   

EPA determined that Millard’s many violations of the CAA’s Risk Management Program arose because Millard failed to maintain process safety information and update operating procedures and hazard safety analyses, failed to adequately train personnel, and failed to maintain the mechanical integrity of its equipment.  There was also evidence that Millard knew of design flaws in its equipment, yet failed to correct them.  Millard was also cited under EPCRA and CERCLA for its failure to properly report releases. 

Millard, EPA, and DOJ recently entered into a Consent Decree under which Millard will pay a civil penalty in excess of $3 million.  It would have been far cheaper for the company to get with the program and comply with the law.