Fertilizer Company Receives Clean Air Act Fine for Not Developing Plan Before Storing Hazardous Substances

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Wednesday that it reached a settlement with Winfield Solutions LLC, a subsidiary of Land O’ Lakes, to address Clean Air Act violations at the company’s Dodge City, Kansas fertilizer manufacturing and distribution facility. 

Winfield Solutions, which reportedly does business as Omnium, will pay a $83,975 civil penalty in response to allegations from the EPA that it violated the federal Clean Air Act Risk Management Program regulations by storing “over 20,000 pounds of aqueous ammonia in concentrations over 20% at the facility.” Aqueous ammonia is reportedly corrosive to skin, eyes, and lungs. The press release said that exposure to aqueous ammonia “may result in skin corrosion or irritation, serious eye damage or irritation, or respiratory or skin sensitization.” 

The EPA explained that through the Risk Management Program storage of extremely hazardous substances would require a facility to develop a risk management plan identifying potential effects, steps to prevent accidents, and an emergency response plan for potential accidents. These plans are given to local emergency response departments to provide them necessary information in case of a chemical emergency. 

Because Winfield Solutions had not submitted or implemented a risk management plan, the EPA took action and the company has reportedly since taken steps to come into compliance.  The press release noted that a separate Winfield Solutions facility in St. Joseph, Missouri has also faced a fine for violations of the Risk Management Program. 

The EPA explained that one of its top priorities is reducing the risk of accidental hazardous substance releases, citing that it is one of seven National Compliance Initiatives announced in 2019 by the agency. 

According to the press release, the “EPA has found that many regulated facilities are not adequately managing the risks that they pose or ensuring the safety of their facilities in a way that is sufficient to protect surrounding communities. Approximately 150 catastrophic accidents occur per year at regulated facilities. These accidents result in fatalities, injuries, significant property damage, evacuations, sheltering in place, or environmental damage. Many more accidents with lesser effects also occur, demonstrating a clear risk posed by these facilities.”