ConAgra to pay $1,000 fine in OSHA settlement over anhydrous ammonia

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Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 12:00 am

A federal inspection at a ConAgra Foods potato processing facility in Idaho has led to a citation for the Omaha-based packaged foods company, which is now required to implement new controls to reduce hazards associated with the release of anhydrous ammonia.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said ConAgra was cited for failing to determine whether it was safely operating older low-pressure receivers, a component of ammonia refrigeration systems commonly used at food manufacturing facilities.

Under a settlement agreement, ConAgra will pay a $1,000 fine and will enclose older receivers at five of its facilities in Idaho, Arkansas, Missouri and Ohio, OSHA said. The agreement also calls for ConAgra to provide other ammonia controls such as emergency ventilation.

ConAgra said Tuesday that its safety efforts related to anhydrous ammonia now exceed OSHA's standard requirements.

“While ConAgra Foods disagreed with the underlying citation and OSHA's interpretation of the standard in question, we're pleased to have resolved this matter with OSHA,” a company spokeswoman said. “ConAgra Foods and our Lamb Weston business are committed to providing a safe and secure work environment that protects and promotes employee safety.” The inspection at ConAgra's Lamb Weston potato facility in American Falls, Idaho, took place in 2010, conducted under an OHSA program designed to reduce workplace hazards associated with the catastrophic release of hazardous chemicals.

In 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency required ConAgra to pay fines and buy equipment worth $65,000 after the company failed to quickly report an anhydrous ammonia leak at a Twin Falls, Idaho, facility.

In 2008, a ConAgra facility in Arkansas was evacuated and one worker was hospitalized with burns after an anhydrous ammonia leak.

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