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Hawaii’s largest refrigerated food warehouse company fined more than $210K for safety violations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined Unicold Corporation, Hawaii’s largest refrigerated food warehouse, a $210,564 civil penalty for violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

Unicold must also resolve the alleged violations, which pertain to the act’s chemical accident prevention requirements, particularly its failure to safely manage large quantities of anhydrous ammonia, a toxic chemical highly corrosive to skin, eyes and lungs.

“Ensuring facilities reduce the risk of releases of toxic substances like anhydrous ammonia is critical,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud in a news release. “We’re pleased that Unicold will work to make Hawaii’s largest refrigeration facility safer as a result of this settlement.”

In March of last year, EPA’s inspection found that Unicold’s ammonia refrigeration system was not designed to meet current safety standards. In addition, the facility’s required risk management plan was deficient.

EPA inspectors also found the following deficiencies at Unicold, including, but not limited to:

>> Failure to label and protect anhydrous ammonia pipes and equipment from potential forklift strikes;

>> Failure to adequately maintain ammonia piping and equipment from ice build-up and corrosion;

>> Failure to establish written procedures for inspection, testing, and maintenance tasks for the Facility’s three engine room emergency ventilation systems;

>> Failure to have accurate operating procedures;

>> Failure to correct equipment deficiencies and document an appropriate response compliance audit and process hazard analysis findings;

>> Failure to install airtight doors to the engine rooms with panic hardware or adequate labeling; and

>> Failure to install eyewash and safety shower systems both inside and outside each of the facility’s engine rooms.

Unicold, based in Honolulu, describes itself as “the largest refrigerated food warehouse in Hawaii,” and has been offering cold storage and distribution of frozen and refrigerated foods in the state since 1962.

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