OSHA Fines Pilgrim's Pride, Russell Stover Over Ammonia Leaks

Federal labor officials last week fined two prominent food companies over incidents involving the release of ammonia in September.

Mnet 150122 Osha Logo Listing
Mnet 150123 Osha Logo Listing

Federal labor officials last week fined two prominent food companies over incidents involving the release of ammonia in September.

On Wednesday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration levied a total of four citations against Pilgrim's Pride after 79 pounds of anhydrous ammonia was released at its facility in Waco, Texas.

The agency said that Pilgrim's Pride failed to implement proper safety procedures that could have prevented the leak, and that the plant did not complete required inspections and equipment tests.

The nation's largest chicken producer faces fines of $122,500. OSHA also cited the company in recent years for similar violations at its plants in Nacogdoches, Texas, and De Queen, Arkansas.

On Thursday, OSHA also cited Russell Stover Candies for 19 safety violations after a failed pipe in an air conditioning unit released 22 pounds of anhydrous ammonia at its Iola, Kansas, plant.

The agency's proposed penalties for the candy producer totaled $193,600.

Anhydrous ammonia is widely used as a refrigerant in industrial facilities, but the flammable vapor can cause damage to the skin and eyes and could be fatal if inhaled.

"When highly hazardous chemicals are not properly controlled there is a potential for an accidental release at any time which could result in a tragedy," said Judy Freeman, OSHA's area director in Wichita, Kansas.

The companies have 15 days following the receipt of the citations to comply, request a conference with OSHA officials or contest the findings.

More in Safety