The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 settled an administrative complaint with John Morrell and Company (Springdale, OH) for violation of federal laws on the reporting of hazardous chemical releases. The company will pay a civil penalty of $20,811 and pay for environmental projects valued at $253,411.

EPA alleged that on Oct. 22, 2000, Morrell failed to promptly report a 3,000-lb release of anhydrous ammonia from a 30,000-lb refrigeration system at its pork processing plant, 801 E. Kemper Rd. in Hamilton County.

All releases of anhydrous ammonia above 100 lbs must be promptly reported to the National Response Center and to the state and local emergency planning committees.

Morrell reported the incident about four hours after knowledge of the situation and to the Ohio emergency response planning commission about 31 hours later. The company never notified the Hamilton County emergency planning committee.

The settlement includes a supplemental environmental project valued at $253,411. Morrell will replace seven smokehouse-flavoring generators with a new super-heated smoke generator. The company will also purchase seven water scrubbers. The new equipment is designed to remove more than 80% of the volatile organic compounds and formaldehyde and more 90% of the hydrocarbon pollution currently being emitted from Morrell's smoke generators.