U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 settled an administrative complaint with Pepsi-Cola General Bottlers (Munster, IN) for alleged violation of federal laws on the reporting of a hazardous chemical release.

The company will pay a civil penalty of $23,435 and pay for environmental projects valued at $145,150. EPA's September 1999 complaint alleged that, on Nov. 16, 1997, the Pepsi facility in Munster failed to promptly report the release of about 3,150 lbs of anhydrous ammonia from a pressurized refrigeration system.

Though no injuries were reported, the facility was evacuated, and the release migrated beyond the Pepsi property to a nearby hospital. All releases above 100 lbs must be reported promptly to the National Response Center (NRC), and to the state and local emergency planning committees.

The facility eventually notified the NRC and the Lake County Emergency Planning Committee more than 14 hours after the incident. In addition, a written follow-up report was also filed late.

The settlement includes a Supplemental Environmental Project, valued at $145,150, in which the facility will install upgraded ammonia monitoring equipment, and a new pumped system for energy-efficient refrigeration.