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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.

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