BEEF Products Inc. (BPI) and the Environmental Protection Agency have reported an agreement in which BPI will pay a $450,000 civil penalty to settle EPA's charges that the company violated the Clean Air Act.
The charges surround an incident at the company's Waterloo, Iowa, plant in 2007 in which more than 1,000 lb. of anhydrous ammonia escaped into an area of the plant that was occupied by workers. In the evacuation, two workers were trapped; subsequently, one died, and one was permanently disabled.
BPI also agreed to independent audits of its compliance with the Clean Air Act at its plant in South Sioux City, Neb., to prevent such an occurrence in the future.
The consent decree was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
BPI closed its Waterloo plant — as well as its plants in Amarillo, Texas, and Garden City, Kan. — last year in the wake of news reporting that denigrated the company's primary product: lean, finely textured beef (Feedstuffs, April 2, 2012). The three plant closings cost 800 workers their jobs.
The company said, as a consequence of the negative publicity, it lost too many customers and too much money to operate its entire system. Only the South Sioux City plant remains open.
Tyson Foods Inc. and EPA reached a similar agreement earlier this month over an anhydrous ammonia release at 23 of the company's facilities in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska that caused multiple injuries and one death (Feedstuffs, April 15). Tyson agreed to a $3.95 million civil penalty in that settlement.
Anhydrous ammonia is used in refrigeration systems at processing plants and other food manufacturing plants.