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Coca-Cola gulps down fine for ammonia leak at plant

Coca-Cola swallowed a $4,400 fine for waiting nearly three days before telling authorities about an ammonia leak from a refrigeration system at its Bellevue plant.
Coca-Cola gulps down fine for ammonia leak at plant
Almost 300 lbs of ammonia leaked from Coca-Cola's Bellevue, Washington plant on the morning of August 17, forcing 17 workers to evacuate the bottling plant.

Firefighters were called to an ammonia leak, which they say happened at 4.15am inside one of the plant's warehouses. The leak was stopped just after 6.am, but fire crews had to set up a decontamination unit in the parking lot, in case of ammonia exposure. No injuries occurred as a result of the leak.

The leak and the company's failure to notify appropriate state and local agencies until 2½ days after the leak violated the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

The BCI Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Los Angeles will pay the $4,404.75 fine.

Firefighters say a faulty compressor switch caused the leak.

In addition to the fine, Coca-Cola will pay out $17,000 to make safety improvements to its refrigeration system.
12 September 2007

Comments

By Bob Jenner
12 September 2007 01:01:00
Circa 9 months ago

""An incident involving the uncontrolled release of circa 1000 kg of Anhydrous
Ammonia from the central refrigeration plant of a brewery resulted in three men being
exposed to relatively high concentrations of ammonia gas. they were trapped and lucky to survive.
The men went to hospital for checks and tests, and were subsequently released.
Nevertheless it was a near miss. The fire and rescue service evacuated the whole site
and closed some local roads. The incident has instigated a full review of refrigeration
safety on site.""
Despite an investigation revealing breaches of most all of the regulations.
HSE issued an improvement notice.
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