THE Environmental Protection Agency and Tyson Foods Inc. announced that they have reached an agreement in which Tyson will develop a program to address threats of accidental chemical releases in some of its facilities.
The settlement was related to anhydrous ammonia releases at 23 of Tyson's facilities in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska that caused multiple injuries and one death, EPA said.
The program will ensure that the proper safety practices are in place to protect employees, first responders and communities located near Tyson processing facilities, EPA said.
The program will build on Tyson's existing risk management plans for its refrigeration systems, which use anhydrous ammonia as a refrigerant, Tyson said.
Those plans are designed to prevent chemical emergencies by establishing processes to manage chemical hazards, including worker communication and training, maintenance and other activities, Tyson said.
Tyson added that the program will also include development of third-party audits to assure EPA that the facilities involved are in compliance "with all aspects" of the Clean Air Act's Risk Management Plan.
In fact, the company expects that the audit system will become "a model provision" that EPA may require of other industrial users of anhydrous ammonia or other chemicals, including other agriculture and food companies, Kevin Igli, senior vice president and chief environmental, health and safety officer at Tyson, said.
Tyson also has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $3.95 million and provide funds totaling $300,000 to help purchase emergency response equipment for fire departments in nine of the communities in which the plants operate, the announcements said.
Tyson, with headquarters in Springdale, Ark., is the largest chicken integrator and the second-largest beef and pork processor in the U.S.