2017 chemical release resulted in evacuation of nearby business community
HONOLULU, HI – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with Hawaiian Ice Company over violations of the Clean Air Act’s chemical release prevention and reporting requirements at its ice production and distribution facility in Kalihi, adjacent to downtown Honolulu and the Honolulu Harbor. Hawaiian Ice will pay a penalty of $82,613 and has made facility safety improvements to protect the public and first responders.
“Facilities’ highest priority must be to properly manage the handling of extremely hazardous chemicals to prevent dangerous incidents,” said Amy Miller, EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Director of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “In Hawaii, EPA continues to focus our inspections and enforcement on those facilities that handle large amounts of extremely hazardous substances and have poor chemical management practices to prevent and minimize chemical accidents.”
On April 24, 2017, a release of ammonia from the 6,500-pound ammonia refrigeration system at the facility resulted in the evacuation of more than 100 people from nearby businesses and watercraft. Although no serious bodily injuries occurred from this release, several people were evaluated for irritated eyes, breathing difficulties, and other symptoms.
As a result of this event, EPA performed an inspection of the facility in 2018 and found safety design violations of the General Duty Clause of the Clean Air Act at the facility. Among other failures, EPA found that:
- Ammonia detection alarms were not installed at several locations where they were needed.
- The ammonia machinery room was not sealed to prevent ammonia from escaping to other occupied parts of the facility.
- An oil drain line was not capped or equipped with a self-closing mechanism, presenting an ammonia release hazard if the valve were to be accidentally opened.
Following the General Duty Clause of the Clean Air Act helps decrease the likelihood of chemical releases at facilities that store extremely hazardous substances and minimizes the consequences of accidental releases. Hawaiian Ice has addressed the cited violations, and these corrections will help protect human health and the environment by reducing the risk of future accidental chemical releases.
To find information on General Duty Clause requirements under the Clean Air Act, visit: https://www.epa.gov/rmp/general-duty-clause-under-clean-air-act-section-112r1