EPA & Tyson agree to settle in a BIG way

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a Clean Air Act (CAA) settlement with Tyson Foods, Inc. and several of its affiliate corporations to address threats of accidental chemical releases after anhydrous ammonia was released during incidents at facilities in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska, resulting in multiple injuries, property damage, and one fatality.

Tyson is required to, as part of the settlement embodied in the Decree:
  • Conduct third-party audits of its current compliance with the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program requirements at its 23 facilities in EPA Region VII that operate on or more covered processes (ammonia refrigeration equipment). The Audit Protocol requires that third-party auditors with expertise in ammonia refrigeration systems and who are recognized experts in PSM/RMP compliance conduct paper reviews of Tyson’s engineering and design specifications as they relate to the physical systems of the covered processes at the facilities. The Auditor shall next conduct on-site Audits of the ammonia refrigeration systems at all the facilities according to a schedule set forth in the audit protocol. Within 30 days after the completion of each on-site Audit, the Auditor shall provide a report to Tyson and EPA. Within 45 days of receiving the Audit report, Tyson shall submit a response to EPA which shall include a plan to correct identified violations within 6 months for non-capital expenditures and within 12 months for capital expenditures. Once Tyson has completed implementation of any corrective measure, Tyson shall certify the completion of the work.
  • In addition, Tyson has agreed to perform non-destructive testing at certain piping used in its refrigeration systems at the 23 facilities. The non-destructive testing is designed to identify piping that was partly responsible for some of the anhydrous ammonia releases by testing threaded piping connections less than two (2) inches in diameter because of their potential for failure.

The settlement includes a 3.95 million dollar fine and requirements to conduct external (3rd party) audits on 23 facilities. Furthermore, as stated above, those audits must be shared with the EPA who also is requiring a written plan to address the issues including a time limit to do so. I am somewhat familiar with Tyson’s PSM/RMP efforts and consider them above-average for our industry – something that should give all of us some reason to reconsider our PSM/RMP priorities.

You can see the settlement information at this link: http://www.epa.gov/enforcement/waste/cases/tysonfoodsinc.html

The Consent Decree in total:


About Brian Chapin

PSM / RMP Compliance Consultant
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