Mt.Vernon Plant - Executive Summary
Schreiber Foods, Inc. ("SFI") is a cheese processor. Schreiber Foods operates a facility in Mt.Vernon, Missouri employing 139 people. The Mt.Vernon cheese processing facility at 108 West North Street, uses anhydrous ammonia for refrigeration of the product in manufacturing. Anhydrous ammonia is subject to EPA regulation under 40 CFR 68, Accidental Release Risk Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals.
Pursuant to the RMP regulations (40 CFR 68) and the Process Safety Management (PSM) regulations, SFI has developed a comprehensive PSM written program to protect our partners and the surrounding community from exposure to the hazardous chemcials onsite. The facility completed a process hazards analysis (PHA) for ammonia using the industry standard What-If? Analysis developed through the International Institute for Ammonia Refrigeration. The PHA was completed using technical and operations staff from the Mt.Vernon facility as well as experienced facilitators from an outside engin
SFI's implementation of the 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 plans include preventive maintenance programs (mechanical integrity) for the ammonia system, and a program for both pre-startup safety reviews and management of changes (MOC) to this system. The program also includes specific requirements for safe work practices (such as safe approaches to welding and similar hot work) and saftey requirements for contractors who may be hired to work on the system.
Lastly, the PSM writen program incorporates the Mt.Vernon plant's 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.
As part of the RMP requirements, SFI undertook a review of the potential offsite consequen
ces of the accidental releases of the largest vessels in the system. Although such a release is highly unlikely, the regulation requires this review. Following are a description of the results.
SFI stores and uses anhydrous ammonia on site for refrigeration of products in manufacturing and in storage. Ammonia is used for its excellent energy efficiency and flexibility, in addition to benefits to employee safety. Ammonia in the facility is kept entirely within the refrigeration system, much as the refrigerant in your car air-conditioner. The Mt.Vernon plant has never experienced a release of ammonia involving consequences that affected residents or the environment.
The worst case scenario was assumed to be the release of the entire contents of the 9,202 pound capacity of the high pressure receiver which is located outdoors. The analysis of this release indicates that a potential exposure of an area approximately 2.4 miles in diameter (distance to endpoin
t of 1.2 miles). The total population within the potential exposure area is 531. Schools and residences are located with in the area.
In determining the alternate case scenario for ammonia, SFI analyzed incidents occurring at other non-SFI refrigeration facilities and the results of the internal process hazards analysis (PHA). The scenario chosen for the ammonia system assumes a 1/2" 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. Residences are located within this area.
SFI is committed to minimizing accidental releases of ammonia from the refrigeration process at the Mt.Vernon plant. Facility management is involved in the design, operation, and maintenance of the system. Schreiber partners at all levels have been involved in the development of the PSM and RMP programs. Management has committed to working with local agenci
es and the community to educate the public regarding the hazards of ammonia and to ensure a safe workplace and surrounding community. Specific quesitons regarding RMP compliance at Schreiber Foods should be addressed to the Plant Manager.