The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a settlement with a company in southwest Nebraska over its storage of anhydrous ammonia.
A routine inspection in late 2014 found Culbertson Dealer Fertilizer and Retail Plant did not have the proper risk management plan in place.
EPA spokesman Chris Whitley says the company was storing 620,000 pounds of the fertilizer on site.
“It is a pretty significant case in that regard,” Whitley tells Nebraska Radio Network. “You can have a fire or explosion at the time of release or shortly thereafter. If you have human exposure to the chemical, it can cause very severe, sometimes permanent, or even fatal effects.”
A risk management plan spells out how materials are stored, a site hazard assessment, an accidental release prevention program, and how to work with local emergency responders.
“No one wants a tragedy to happen, and the Risk Management Program was really put in place as part of the federal Clean Air Act to try to prevent large-scale disasters,” Whitley says.
The Culbertson site has until the end of January to come up with the necessary plan and also pay a civil penalty of $101.808 to the federal government.
“Our goal with these enforcement cases, contrary to what some people may believe, is not to impose fines,” Whitley says. “It’s to make sure that there is compliance with the regulations that are designed to protect everybody who’s out there.”
Kugler Company of McCook, Neb., is the parent company of the Culbertson Dealer Fertilizer and Retail Plant, at 71748 Rail Road Avenue, in Culbertson, Neb.