July 22, 2024

Tyson Settles Toxic Gas Lawsuit for $4.25 Million

Tyson Foods has agreed to pay $4.25 million to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  to settle a lawsuit stemming from incidents where leaky refrigeration systems at two dozens Tyson plants in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska released anhydrous ammonia into the air injuring workers and killing one person. Tyson must pay $3.95 million penalty and purchase $300,000 of emergency response equipment for first responders in communities where Tyson operates.

Vapors of anhydrous ammonia can cause temporary blindness,  eye damage, irritation of the skin and respiratory systemas well as irritation of the skin, mouth, throat, respiratory tract and mucous membranes. Prolonged exposure leads to lung damage and death. “Today’s settlement with Tyson Foods will ensure the proper safety practices are in place in the future to protect employees, first responders, and communities located near processing facilities from the threat of dangerous chemical releases,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

The company has agreed to test and replace and faulty refrigeration piping at the 23 facilities where the incidents occurred. Under settlement terms, Tyson is required to conduct third-party audits of its current compliance with the Clean Air Act at all 23 facilities in Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska where there was a problem and correct any problems discovered. The third-party auditors must be approved by the EPA, have expertise in ammonia refrigeration systems and be recognized as experts in risk management program compliance.

epa_logo“This settlement will protect workers at Tyson facilities throughout Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska that use anhydrous ammonia, and make the communities surrounding these 23 facilities safer. It will also provide emergency response equipment for first responders to chemical releases,” said Ignacia Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The requirements of this agreement, which include comprehensive third party audits, will help mitigate the impact of releases of anhydrous ammonia by ensuring compliance with the Risk Management Program under the Clean Air Act.”


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