The breaches relate to The Coca-Cola Company’s Minute Maid juice processing site at 38279 West Red Arrow Highway, Paw Paw. A letter sent to Coke on March 12 2013, and shared by the EPA with BeverageDaily.com, lays out 27 alleged violations of the US Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program (RMP) relating to ammonia.
These include (1) lack of managerial system to oversee implementation of RMP elements (2) failure to determine ‘worst case’ release quantities in single vessels (3) lack of information relating to safe upper and lower temperatures, pressures, flows and compositions.
(4) Lack of information regarding the technology of the relief system design (5) Lack of information relating to safety systems (6) failure to perform a process hazard analysis.
More damningly, if true, the EPA alleges that Coke failed to begin incident investigation within 48 hours following an accident, establish a knowledgeable incident investigation team or include the date when any investigation began in incident reports.
Toxic ammonia can cause death
Ammonia is toxic and may be harmful to humans if inhaled in concentrations. According to the EPA, effects can range from irritation to severe respiratory injuries and even death, while skin exposure results in a chemical-type burn.
A paragraph in Coke’s 2013 annual report (filed on February 27 2014) explains that the Michigan juice plant uses ammonia in its refrigeration equipment, with this use subject to the RMP.
“Under the RMP our plant must develop, maintain and implement a plan to prevent, mitigate and respond to potential releases of ammonia into the environment,” Coke says.