HONOLULU (KHON2) — A food refrigeration corporation violated the Federal Clean Air Act after an inspection revealed that its Honolulu warehouse failed to meet several health and safety regulations, again.

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The investigation, conducted in 2019 by the U.S. Environmental Program Agency (EPA), revealed Unicold Corporation failed to manage large quantities of anhydrous ammonia, a chemical the EPA says is highly corrosive to the skin, eyes and lungs.

In addition to this, the report deemed the warehouse in violation of the following:

  • Failure to label and protect anhydrous ammonia pipes and equipment from potential forklift strikes.
  • Failure to adequately maintain ammonia piping and equipment from ice build-up and corrosion.
  • Failure to establish written procedures for inspection, testing, and maintenance tasks for the facility’s three engine room emergency ventilation systems.
  • Failure to have accurate operating procedures.
  • Failure to correct equipment deficiencies and document an appropriate response compliance audit and process hazard analysis findings.
  • Failure to install air tight doors to the engine rooms with panic hardware or adequate labeling.
  • Failure to install eyewash and safety shower systems both inside and outside each of the facility’s engine rooms.

Unicold agreed to a settlement which will require the business to pay a $210,564 civil penalty and implement changes to reduce the risk of chemical accidents at its facility.

But, this isn’t the first time the Hawai’i warehouse has raised red flags for misconduct.

In August of 2013, state and federal investigators discovered 63 violations, which included not keeping exit routes free and unobstructed, not labeling exit routes and not posting proper signage in its facility.

The company also had to pay a $250,000 fine for those safety violations and was given 15 business days to fix the issue.

“Ensuring facilities reduce the risk of releases of toxic substances like anhydrous ammonia is critical,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud regarding the newest settlement.  “We’re pleased that Unicold will work to make Hawaii’s largest refrigeration facility safer as a result of this settlement.”

Read the full press release here.

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