Perdue Farms Inc., Accomac Processing Plant - Executive Summary

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Perdue Farms Incorporated, founded in 1920, is the largest poultry producer in the Northeast and the third largest in the United States.  Headquarted in Salisbury, Maryland, the family-owned, privately held company has operations in 14 states.  Twenty processing plants produce about 50 million pounds of poultry products each week.  Perdue also has grain storage and merchandising operations and is ranked among the top 20 largest U.S. grain companies.  Perdue also manufactures edible oils, specialty feeds, livestock ingredients, and premium pet food. 
Chemical Management Program 
As a concerned member of the communities in which Perdue facilities are located, the company takes its role as a responsible corporate citizen very seriously.  All Perdue facilities are operated so as to protect employees, contractors, and the public from injury and illness, and to minimize environmental impact.  A company-wide safety and wellness program stresses safe working conditions and practices.  Perdue's 
policy is to inspect, maintain, and operate equipment and facilities in a manner that will prevent accidents, including the release of hazardous materials, and, to train employees in accident prevention while also preparing them to respond rapidly and effectively should an accident occur. 
Perdue Farms has developed and implemented Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures (SPCC) and Process Safety Management (PSM) plans at each operations facility as part of an overall chemical management program.  The program involves a wide range of senior management personnel, including the Director of Environmental Services and the Director of Safety and Security.  Additionally, Perdue conducts regular safety meetings and provides training to its staff in the areas of health, safety, and envrionmental protection. 
Description of Facility and the Regulated Substances 
The Perdue Farms Accomac Processing Plant facility is located adjacent to the north side of U.S. Rt. 13, approximately 1 mile  
northeast of the town of Accomac, Virginia.  The facility occupies approximately 300 acres.  Perdue Farms has operated a poultry processing facility at this location since 1971.   
The regulated substance used at the Accomac Plant is anhydrous ammonia (R-717), which is covered by 40 CFR Part 68.  Anhydrous ammonia is utilized as a refrigerant medium in the facility's mechanical refrigeration system.  The normal operating inventory of ammonia in the refrigeration system is approximately 49,042 pounds. 
Worst Case Release Scenario 
The theoretical absolute worst case release scenario in terms of an uncontrolled release of anhydrous ammonia from the refrigeration facilities would occur in an event involving the total catastrophic structural failure of the high pressure ammonia receiver (HPR) resulting in the subsequent release of 100 % of its contents to the atmosphere within a time period of 10 minutes or less.  The liklihood of an event such as this occurring is extremely remote, howeve 
r, as required by the RMP regulation, the following worst case release scenario has been hypothesized based upon the presumption that the catastrophic failure of the HPR could occur.  The HPR has a total storage capacity of 33,845 pounds of anhydrous ammonia.  Using the EPA's RMP Comp Version 1.06 software, the calculated distance to the toxic endpoint of 200 parts per million (ppm) airborne anhydrous ammonia, in the event that a total catastrophic failure of the HPR occurred, would be 3.1 miles from the point of release.  The critical receptors located within the 3.1 mile radius of the Accomac Plant include residences, schools, churches, businesses, restaurants, and a correctional facility.  The estimated maximum population located within the 3.1 mile radius, based upon U.S. Census Bureau information contained in Landview III mapping software, is 954. 
Alternative Release Scenario 
An unlikely but potential alternative release scenario for the refrigeration facilities is the release o 
f anhydrous ammonia through a broken line serving the accumulator located on the roof of the processing plant.  This type of incident could result in the release of up to 6,769 pounds of liquid anhydrous ammonia within a time period of approximately 24 minutes.  The released liquid ammonia would tend to initially pool on the roof, would subsequently become airborne as a mixture of ammonia vapor and very fine liquid droplets, and then ultimately disperse as a dense gaseous mixture.  In this instance, a dense gas atmoshperic dispersion computer model (DEGADIS) was used to calculate a predicted distance to the 200 ppm toxic endpoint.  The DEGADIS model predicted that the toxic endpoint would occur at a distance of approximately 0.4 miles from the point of release after an elapsed time of approximately 5 minutes from the release event.  According to the DEGADIS model, the airborne concentration of ammonia at the 0.4 mile distance from the release would tend to rise and fall between the con 
centrations of 200 and 180 ppm at a frequency of every 2 to 3 minutes.  This rise and fall cycle would repeat until soon after the end of the release event, after which the airborn ammonia concentration would rapidly drop and remain below the 200 ppm level of concern.  Several residences and business are located within the 0.4 mile radius, and a school is located in close proximity outside of the radius.  The estimated maximum population within the 0.4 mile radius, based upon U.S. Census Bureau information contained in Landview III mapping software, is 38. 
General Accident Release Prevention Program 
The Perdue Farms Accomac Processing Plant maintains a Process Safety Management (PSM) Plan in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Admininstration (OSHA) regulation 29 CFR 1910.119.  The facility also utilizes a preventive maintenance program for the upkeep of its anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system.  As part of this program, trained maintenance personnel  frequently moni 
tor and record the system's operational parameters.  In addition to operating parameters, the condition of the physical components of the system are monitored and recorded on a regular basis.  Preventive maintenance is performed upon the system at regular intervals and as the need is indicated through the ongoing monitoring performed by the maintenance personnel. 
Five Year Accident History 
There have been no accidents involving anhydrous ammonia during the past five years that have resulted in death, injuries, property damage, off-site evacuations, environmental damage, or sheltering in place. 
Emergency Response Program 
The Perdue Farms Accomac Processing Plant has implemented a comprehensive Emergency Response Plan in accordance with the OSHA PSM regulations.  The facility has a trained emergency response team that will respond in the event of a hazardous material release, fire, or other emergency situation.  The written Emergency Response Plan contains specific information regard 
ing Emergency Response organization and procedure, as well as incident notification, mitigation, and incident preparedness.  In addition, the facility program includes annual refreshers for Emergency Response team personnel. 
Planned Changes to Improve Safety 
As part of Perdue's continuous improvement philosophy, all company facilities continue to identify and implement improvements which will help to ensure safety in operations.
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