Albertson's Distribution Center #8790 - Executive Summary

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ACME Stores, Inc. ("ACME") is a diversified retailer of grocery products. ACME is a wholly owned operating unit of Albertson's, Inc. (Boise, ID).  ACME operates many retail grocery stores throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware that are supplied through a number of distribution and transportation complexes located in Pennsylvania, one of which is located in East Cocalico Township, Pennsylvania.   Currently under construction and planned to be completed during 2000, the East Cocalico (referred to as the Albertson's Lancaster Distribution Center - #8790) operation will employ over 1000 people. The warehouse areas storing frozen foods, meat, dairy, produce, and delicatessen products are cooled by an ammonia refrigeration system.  The system will have a maximum refrigerant charge exceeding 10,000 pounds of ammonia. Anhydrous ammonia is subject to EPA regulation under 40 CFR 68, Accidental Release Risk Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals. 
uant to the Risk Management Plan (RMP) regulations (40 CFR 68) and the Process Safety Management (PSM) standard (29 CFR 1910.119), Albertson's has developed a comprehensive PSM written program to protect employees and the surrounding community from exposure to ammonia.  The facility completed detailed Pre-Startup Safety Reviews through checklist analyses and will complete a process hazards analysis (PHA) for ammonia using the industry standard What-If?/Checklist Analysis developed through the International Institute for Ammonia Refrigeration. The PHA will be completed once facility operators have been employed and the system is under the operational control of Albertson's staff. The PSSR was completed in September 1999 using technical and operations staff from the ACME facility as well as experienced facilitators from Dames & Moore, an outside engineering firm. 
Albertson's is committed to the safe operation of ammonia refrigeration system at the Lancaster distribution center. Albertso 
n's implementation of the revised PSM program includes employee education in the hazards of ammonia and measures that can be used to reduce employee and community exposure to accidental releases of ammonia. The plan includes preventive maintenance programs (mechanical integrity) for the ammonia system that incorporates inspections of the system in accordance with IIAR Bulletin 110, the recognized standard of equipment inspection within the ammonia refrigeration industry, as well as tests of system components in accordance with component manufacturers' recommendations.  
The PSM plan includes programs for pre-startup safety reviews and management of changes (MOC) to the refrigeration system. The program also includes specific requirements for safe work practices (such as safe approaches to welding and similar hot work) and safety requirements for contractors who may be hired to work on the systems. The PSM program also includes a program for the evaluation of contractors.  
Since the sy 
stem has not been formally commissioned, Albertson's has not completed a compliance audit of the PSM program.  A compliance audit of the newly implemented PSM program will be completed in the first quarter of 2001.  
The PSM written program incorporates the Lancaster distribution center's comprehensive emergency response plan and places special emphasis on handling accidental releases of hazardous chemicals and coordination of emergency response with local fire departments and other emergency response organizations. The response plan details the emergency response structure and includes personnel responsibilities and procedures within that structure.  In addition, the plan includes procedures for notification of local agencies in the event of an incident, facility evacuation, and decontamination.  Finally, the plan discusses emergency preparedness and planning, including facility plans for conducting emergency response team training and drills. 
The Albertson's Lancaster distribution c 
enter has never experienced a release of ammonia involving consequences that affected residents or the environment, nor has the facility experienced a near-miss situation that should have been investigated. However, as part of the RMP requirements, Albertson's undertook a review of the potential offsite consequences of the accidental releases of the largest vessels in the systems.  Although such a release is highly unlikely, the regulation requires this review.  
The worst case scenario indicates that a potential exposure of an area approximately 3.6 miles in diameter (distance to endpoint of 1.8 miles) would result. The total population within the potential exposure area is 3,285.  Within this area there are schools, residences, and commercial/industrial areas.  The scenario analyzed does not reflect conditions under operation, which can be determined only after charging the ammonia system. 
In determining the alternate case scenario for ammonia, Albertson's analyzed incidents occurri 
ng at other refrigeration facilities and the results of the internal process hazards analysis (PHA).  The alternative scenario chosen assumes a =" hole in a liquid return pipe from the outside condensers. Such a release would affect an area of 0.34 miles (0.17 miles to the toxic endpoint) and create the potential to affect approximately 35 persons.  Only local residences are located within this area.  
Finally, as part of the ongoing Year 2000 (Y2K) readiness and compliance program, Albertson's has discussed with their equipment suppliers' instrumentation specialists the issues regarding Y2K compliance of their refrigeration systems.  Albertson's has been assured that the refrigeration systems are Y2K compliant.  In addition to this assurance, the refrigeration systems at the Lancaster distribution center are integrated into the emergency generator system for backup power in the event of a power outage.  Detailed information concerning the Albertson's Y2K program can be found in the Al 
bertson's, Inc. Annual Financial Report, 10-K, or 10-Q.
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