May 29, 2013

Janitor's Mistake Forces Evacuation

Source: Great American Environmental Division, May 2013

While working at a shopping center, an employee of a janitorial company inadvertently mixed ammonia and chlorine based cleaning products. The mixture resulted in a toxic cloud of ammonia chloride that caused respiratory distress in dozens of shoppers and a shut-down of the center for a period of time. The contractor was held responsible for the defense of the bodily injury claims. Additionally, numerous business interruption claims were filed by the tenants.


November 3, 2011

Columbus settles with Genentech over ammonia leak

Source: San Mateo County Times (CA), November 2, 2011
Posted on:

Sausage maker Columbus Foods Inc. has settled a lawsuit filed by its neighbor Genentech over a large-scale noxious ammonia leak in South San Francisco that sickened nearly three dozen of the biotech giant’s employees in 2009. According to a statement from Genentech, the 94-year-old cured meat company agreed to “vigorous safety improvements” to its refrigeration system, which was the source of the leak. The cloud of anhydrous ammonia that escaped from the factory where Columbus makes salami and pancetta resulted in 30 Genentech workers getting medical treatment. The suit, settled Oct. 28, pointed specifically to a company bus driver who collapsed due to the ammonia cloud and had to be hospitalized, according to San Mateo County Superior Court records. The man, who drove one of the fleet of buses that ferries employees to and from work in the Bay Area, survived his injuries. About 200 pounds of the chemical shot out of the roof-mounted cooling system of the facility at 493 Forbes Blvd. on the morning of Aug. 28, 2009, during construction work. A contractor, who was not named, had recently made some changes to the system and it malfunctioned when turned on. The facility had a similarly sized ammonia leak on Feb. 17, 2009, but didn’t tell its neighbors, the suit says. The Environmental Protection Agency slammed Columbus in February 2009 for not following industry practices for ammonia refrigeration and ordered safety changes. Columbus later paid San Mateo County $850,000 to settle a separate lawsuit over the release. According to the EPA, exposure to ammonia can cause temporary blindness and eye damage as well as skin, mouth, throat and breathing problems. Extended exposure can cause death or major health problems. Columbus CEO Timothy Fallon declined to comment on the terms of the settlement, which he said were confidential. Genentech would not elaborate on the information in its statement. However Fallon said the company began work in September to transfer the rooftop refrigeration system to the inside of the building, where leaks can be contained. He said the company hoped to be done with the work by December. He added the contractor, and not the company, was to blame for the leak. “But ultimately it’s our property,” Fallon said. “The buck stops with us, I guess.” Genentech has about 10,000 employees roughly scattered throughout its 54-building campus in South San Francisco. On any given day about 700 children of employees are being looked after at the company daycare centers.…

March 31, 2011

In brief: Storage company fined for 2007 ammonia leak

Source: Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), March 29, 2011
Posted on:

Empire Cold Storage will pay a $67,142 fine for failing to report the release of an estimated 400 pounds of anhydrous ammonia in 2007 from its Spokane warehouse.

No injuries were reported from the leak on July 14, 2007, which occurred over about three hours at 1327 N. Oak St. Company officials failed to immediately report the leak to local and state authorities, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which reached a settlement with the company.

Empire Cold Storage uses large amounts of anhydrous ammonia as a refrigerant. The toxic gas attacks the skin, eyes, throat and lungs. It can cause serious injury or death.

Armed man robs Valley mini mart

A clerk at a convenience store in Spokane Valley was robbed Sunday by a man who showed the butt of a pistol hidden under a coat.…

March 9, 2011

Ammonia Leak Sends People to Hospital

Read here about how an ammonia leak in Connecticut sent 12 people to the hospital.…

September 1, 2010

Union Pacific Train Carrying Chlorine Gas Struck Train and Derails

Acknowledgement to Ironshore Environmental

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, June 28 (Reuters) – At least three people were killed when a Union Pacific Corp. (NYSE:UNP – News) freight train hauling chlorine gas and anhydrous ammonia struck another train and derailed in a rural area on Monday, spreading a hazardous gas cloud.

Two people were found dead in a vehicle near the site of the derailment, San Antonio Fire Department spokesman Randy Jenkins said. The cause of death was not immediately known, but Jenkins said the deaths were related to the derailment.

Union Pacific spokesman John Bromley said one body was found in the wreckage of the train. Emergency officials said it was the train’s missing engineer. The crash occurred in a rural section about 15 miles southwest of San Antonio’s downtown.…