Armour Swift-Eckrich Deli Foodservice Company - Executive Summary

| Accident History | Chemicals | Emergency Response | Registration | Source | Executive Summary |

The Armour Swift-Eckrich Dry Sausage facility in St. Charles, Illinois has a good record in preventing releases of anhydrous* ammonia.  As part of their release prevention program, the plant has an excellent and very detailed preventative maintenance program.  More information about these aspects of the prevention program is discussed in Section 4.0 of this Executive Summary. 
The facility has implemented an Emergency Action Plan and a HAZMAT Response Plan which provide information to safely deal with an ammonia release.  This detailed emergency response program includes procedures for handling an emergency - the established response plan and appropriate personnel involved in containing an ammonia release - HAZMAT Team. The Emergency Action Plan coupled with the HAZMAT Response program constitute a thorough and comprehensive plan for release prevention and emergency response.  The emergency response policies at  
the Armour Swift-Eckrich facility ensure that there is emergency response coverage 24 hours - 7 days per week.  
*From this point in the Executive Summary, anhydrous ammonia will be synonymous with ammonia. 
The Armour Swift-Eckrich St. Charles Dry Sausage Plant produces dry sausage products. The NAICS code for the processes at this facility is 311612.   Many areas of the plant are refrigerated to preserve the meat products. Armour Swift-Eckrich has one regulated substance under 40 CFR 68: ammonia.  Ammonia is used as a refrigerant in the refrigeration of the products in the various areas of the plant. 
The ammonia threshold for triggering applicability to 40 CFR 68 is 10,000 pounds.  There are two separate ammonia processes located in two separate plants at the St. Charles Dry Sausage Plant.  The Plant 1 ammonia process has approximately 27,000 pounds of ammonia. The Plant 2 ammonia process has approximately 17,000 pounds of ammonia. E 
ach process exceeds the threshold quantity of 10,000 pounds as set by 40 CFR 68 and thus each are regulated by the Risk Management Program. 
The ammonia refrigeration system has associated hazards that can potentially affect on-site employees and the general public off-site if there is a release from the system.  Described below are the associated hazards and the worst-case and alternative release scenario for the regulated chemical.  Though there may be other scenarios possible, EPA only requires that one worst-case and one alternative scenario be reported for each regulated chemical.  
Ammonia is classified as a Group 2 Refrigerant per ASHRAE Standard 34-1989.  The dominant characteristic of this chemical is its toxicity.  It is a self-alarming chemical by its distinctive pungent odor.  Due to this odor, persons exposed to ammonia vapor will not voluntarily stay in areas of even small concentrations.  Ammonia will burn at a very narr 
ow and high range of concentrations accompanied with a high ignition temperature.  Although ammonia is not poisonous, it is corrosive to human tissue.  Ammonia is readily absorbed into the moisture of the skin and, at high concentrations, can cause severe burns. 
The risks to persons in an accidental release of ammonia include: 
1.    Corrosive attack of skin and other tissue (including lung tissue) 
2.    Freezing of skin and other body tissue when contacted by liquid ammonia 
3.    Eye contact 
Below is a description of the release scenarios for ammonia and their off-site consequences: 
3.1    Worst-Case Scenario Description 
One worst-case scenario has been developed for the St. Charles Dry Sausage Plant.  The largest potential release of ammonia would occur in Engine Room 2 (Plant 2) with a 2< inch diameter puncture in the liquid portion of the 50# Accumulator. Taking the specific definition of the worst-case from 40 CFR 68.25, this is the vessel that can store the largest quantity of ammonia.   
The total quantity of ammonia that can be stored in the 50# Accumulator is 22,597 pounds.  Therefore, the worst-case release quantity will be 22,597 pounds.  Administrative and passive controls are not applicable to this scenario.  It is assumed that the entire 22,597 pounds is released to the atmosphere in 10 minutes.  For the worst-case release, regulations dictate that the release height is at ground level.  Even though system charge of ammonia is less than 22,597, the plant decided to make a very conservative worst-case release. 
Under Section 68.25(c)(1), a regulated toxic substance such as ammonia that is normally a gas at ambient temperature and handled as a liquid under pressure shall be considered to be released as a gas over a 10 minute period.  Thus, ammonia's physical state in the worst-case scenario is a gas. 
Since this facility is located in a populated area, the worst-case release scenario distance-to-endpoint will reach off-site public receptors. 
3.2    Alternative Relea 
se Scenario Description 
The alternative release scenario is an ammonia release from a high pressure liquid line on the roof. This piping is associated with Plant 1.  The release scenario considers damage to the pipe which creates an opening equivalent to a = diameter orifice, and is located 40 feet above ground level.  Administrative and passive controls are not applicable to this scenario.  Active mitigation of the release is human intervention.     
Since this facility is located in a populated area, the alternative release scenario distance-to-endpoint will reach off-site public receptors. 
Armour Swift-Eckrich has developed an OSHA (PSM) program for their ammonia refrigeration system. At Armour Swift-Eckrich, ammonia falls under the RMP Program 3 Prevention Program which is identical to the OSHA PSM program.  EPA has said that if the process is in compliance with OSHA PSM, then it is compl 
iance with RMP Program 3.  Thus, Armour Swift-Eckrich's ammonia PSM system has been reviewed and the PSM system elements are being implemented for the RMP document.   
Listed below are the key aspects of the ammonia prevention program: 
The plant is in the process of implementing a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) for control scheduling and accomplishment of preventative maintenance on components of the refrigeration system.   
The review of Armour Swift-Eckrich's accident history includes the following range of dates: June 21, 1994 - June 21, 1999.  According to 40 CFR Part 68.42(a), there have been no accidental releases at this facility. 
As mentioned previously, the Armour Swift-Eckrich Dry Sausage facility has developed an Emergency Action Plan and a HAZMAT Response Plan. The emergency plans are detailed documents which discusses the role of employees in an emergency situation. The plans outlines spec 
ific procedures for evacuations for plant personnel.  
The Emergency Action Plan contains specific information regarding:  notification procedures, information spokesperson, evacuation instructions, personnel accounting procedures, notification of response groups, medical information, critique and follow up of the plan. 
The HAZMAT Response Plan contains specific information regarding: standard operating procedures, roles/responsibilities and lines of authority, coordination with local authorities, emergency recognition and prevention, decontamination, entry team procedures, tests for alarm system, training, site security and control, medical and first aid, personal protective equipment, and debriefing. 
Based on the completed Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) for ammonia, a list of action items to improve safety was developed and their status monitored to ensure that implementation was accomplished.  An example of safety improvements made at the plan 
t is discussed below: 
The plant has completed several projects that have improved the safety and efficiency of their ammonia refrigeration system.  These include relocation of ammonia piping to the roof at Plant 1, installation of rooftop air handling units, installation of both an ammonia detection system and emergency shutdown system.  Additionally, the plant is in the process of completing labeling and tagging of the ammonia system.  The plant also has plans to replace several deteriorated evaporator units in Plant 2.  The ammonia piping and evaporators in Plant 2 are installed in the process areas at the highest elevations possible in the building.  None of these present any excessive risk of damage.
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