Anheuser-Busch reached a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency, requiring it to pay $537,000 in penalties and implement a comprehensive safety review of all 11 of its breweries that use anhydrous ammonia, according to a statement released by the environmental agency.
These penalties stem from inspections of Anheuser-Busch’s facilities in Merrimack, New Hampshire; Fort Collins, Colorado; and Fairfield, California, which took place between 2016 and 2019. The investigations found the beer manufacturer violated the Clean Air Act accident prevention requirements and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.
The EPA also investigated an ammonia release at the beer maker’s Fort Collins facility, which injured two employees in 2018, stating that many of the allegations in the settlement related to a failure to comply with “recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices.”
As part of the settlement, Anheuser-Busch will conduct the safety review at its facilities in New Hampshire, California, Colorado, Texas, Ohio, Florida, New York, Georgia and Missouri. The company is also required to hire an outside, independent expert to conduct a safety review of its 11 national breweries, in accordance with two of the most recent and comprehensive ammonia refrigeration industry standards.
The large beer manufacturer must develop and implement corrective measures based on these findings, which the EPA expects will provide increased protection to about 172,000 people living in communities around Anheuser-Busch facilities. Due to dangers associated with anhydrous ammonia, which has low global warming potential but is corrosive to skin, eyes and lungs, the EPA inspects facilities using it across the country as part of its National Enforcement and Compliance Initiative.
“EPA is committed to protecting workers, communities and first responders by ensuring companies like Anheuser-Busch both fund and maintain a comprehensive, up-to-date Risk Management Plan,” stated Acting Assistant Administrator Larry Starfield for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance in the release. “This settlement should send a clear message to companies managing extremely hazardous chemicals that EPA will hold companies accountable if they fail to adequately prepare for and prevent chemical accidents.”
The government agency says due to extensive standards, codes and guidance outlining the safe use of ammonia refrigeration, it leans on these existing industry standards when enforcing regulations and compliance