Vons Company, Santa Fe Springs Distribution - Executive Summary

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The Vons Companies Santa Fe Springs Distribution Center abides by the emergency response procedures and policies detailed in the Vons Emergency Response Plan manual.  This Plan was designed to meet the following objectives: 
   1.)    To save lives. 
   2.)    To minimize and avoid injuries. 
   3.)    To protect the environment. 
   4.)    To minimize property damage. 
Vons maintains an emergency response committee whose members are the designated emergency coordinators for the facility.  The Plan provides the response organization and notification procedures, evacuation routes, ammonia health hazards, and mitigation procedures which will be implemented to respond effectively to emergency situations that may arise at the facility.  This Plan is reviewed and updated at least once per year.  This Plan was reviewed and updated to ensure compliance with the PSM and RMP regulations, as well as to incorporate any facility changes.  
The Vons Companies Santa Fe Springs Distribution Center is located at 12801 Excelsior Drive in Santa Fe Springs, California,  approximately 0.4 miles west of the 5 freeway, bordered by Shoemaker Avenue and Excelsior Drive.  The facility currently covers approximately 86 acres and was originally built in 1961.  Since then, several additions have been built on to the facility: the west produce warehouse in 1967, the frozen foods warehouse in 1969, the east produce warehouse in 1977, and the compressor room in 1987.  The facility is surrounded by a mixture of industrial complexes and residential areas.   
The facility is manned 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.  The number of full time employees given in item number 1.11 of 572, is the number of employees on-site during a 24 hour period.  This number does not include truck drivers as they are "transient" employees. 
The Santa Fe Springs facility is currently one of Vons' largest food distribution centers in South 
ern California.  The food distribution center contains an ammonia refrigeration system which performs many of the standard operations used in the cold storage industry.  There is one ammonia system that is used in three areas: produce receiving warehouse, frozen food warehouse, and produce warehouse.  Each area has several evaporators used to keep various rooms cold.   
The refrigeration process, consisting of piping, valves, and equipment, cycles ammonia through various physical states (high pressure liquid, low pressure liquid, low pressure vapor, high pressure vapor, then back to high pressure liquid) in order to provide refrigeration for process equipment and cold storage rooms.  Changes in pressure are directly related to changes in temperature.  For example, lowering the ammonia pressure lowers its temperature.  Low pressure (cold) liquid ammonia provides refrigeration by removing ambient heat.  Removal of ambient heat causes the liquid ammonia (contained within the system) to va 
porize.  Heat is later removed from the ammonia as it is condensed back into a liquid.  Typical operating conditions range from vacuum (approximately 6" Hg) on the low pressure side of the system to 150-160 psig on the high side. 
Ammonia is used as the refrigerant in the refrigeration process. 
The total ammonia inventory is 25,000 pounds.   
Worst Case Release Result Summary 
The worst case release for this facility was that of the maximum quantity of ammonia that can be stored in a vessel.  The largest vessel is the high pressure receiver which is located inside the engine room.  This vessel can hold the entire system charge of 25,000 pounds of ammonia.  This quantity was released in 10 minutes.  This vessel is located inside a building; therefore, the enclosure was used as a passive mitigation measure. The most pessimistic meteorological conditions were used: 1.5 meters/second wind speed, and F stability.  The facility is located in an urban se 
tting.  The downwind distance to 200 ppm was determined using Exhibit 4-4 from the EPA "Risk Management Program Guidance for Ammonia Refrigeration", November 1998.  The release reaches off-site and may affect population receptors.  No environmental receptors are affected by this potential scenario. 
Alternative Release Result Summary 
The alternative release scenario was that of a 0.25 inch diameter leak of high pressure gas ammonia for one hour.  This scenario was chosen because the facility has high pressure gas lines external to the facility and a 0.25 inch leak could be caused by a flange seal leak or a valve packing leak.  The quantity of ammonia released in one hour at this rate is 7,560 pounds.  The meteorological conditions used were 3 meters/second wind speed, and D stability. The facility is located in an urban setting.  The downwind distance to 200 ppm was determined using Exhibit 4-5 from the EPA "Risk Management Program Guidance for Ammonia Refrigeration", November 1998.   
The release reaches off-site and may affect population receptors.  No environmental receptors are affected by this potential scenario. 
Administrative Measures 
The facility operates in accordance with the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) guidelines and standards including the following: 
    IIAR Bulletin 107, "Suggested Safety and Operating Procedures When Making Ammonia Refrigeration Tie-ins" 
    IIAR Bulletin 109, "Minimum Safety Criteria for a Safe Ammonia Refrigeration System" 
    IIAR Bulletin 110, "Startup, Inspection, and Maintenance of Ammonia Refrigeration Systems" 
    IIAR Publication R-1, "A Guide to Good Practices for the Operation of an Ammonia Refrigeration System" 
In addition, Vons has implemented a Process Safety Management program for compliance with the Cal-OSHA 5189 regulation since June 1995. 
Engineering Measures 
The ammonia refrigeration system employed by Vons is equipp 
ed with a computer which monitors and  controls the system.  The computer system is connected to controls and status indicators throughout the refrigeration system intended to minimize potential ammonia related accidents and to allow operators to monitor system operations.  This monitoring system is comprised of liquid level controls, pressure and temperature controls and indicators, as well as other system safeguards and methods for allowing the computer (or facility operators) to effectively monitor and control refrigeration operations. 
Between June 1994 and June 1999, there have been no releases of ammonia that exceeded the Federal Reportable Quantity of 100 pounds. In addition, there have been no injuries resulting from an ammonia release. 
The Vons Santa Fe Springs Distribution Center has an Emergency Response Team in place to respond to potential ammonia alarms or releases.  This team of seven operators,  has completed the  
OSHA 24 Hour Technician Level Training program and participates in 8 hour annual refresher training classes.  In addition, the Team dons the emergency response equipment four times per year. 
The Vons Santa Fe Springs Distribution Center has several locations which are occupied by personnel during operational hours.  If an ammonia release occurred, some or all of these employees may need to be evacuated.  Additional evacuation instructions  are posted inside each building for employee viewing which show locations of all emergency exits and also indicate where to assemble outside each facility for a roll call. 
One roll call method employed by Vons is to print out the number of personnel in the warehouse from the time-in attendance system, and post the count by the time clock.  The number of non-hourly individuals and the person counting heads are also added to the total number.  The total is then posted at the time clock for removal by a supervisor at the time of a drill or an emergenc 
y evacuation.  Supervisors will track employees who leave the facility. 
If an ammonia release occurs, the employees will immediately notify their supervisor.  The supervisor will use the intercom system and/or telephone to inform the other employees and the Incident Commander.  With all of the information provided by the employees and supervisors the Incident Commander will decide which employees need to be evacuated and which employees should stay sheltered within their building.  Also, the Incident Commander will decide which of the designated assembly areas will be the safest to use for the evacuation.  If employee evacuation is necessary in certain locations, the supervisors will be told the designated assembly area over their portable radios or over the intercom system.  An evacuation will require the use of the intercom in that location along with assistance from all nearby supervisors.  The supervisors and intercom will inform the employees of the assembly location chosen.  To  
insure all employees are familiar with evacuation procedures, evacuation drills are performed once a year at Vons.  
If there is a fire at the Vons, Santa Fe Springs facility, a procedure similar to an ammonia release will be followed.  The employees will inform their supervisor of the emergency and the supervisor will use the intercom system and/or telephone to inform other employees and the Incident Commander.  The meteorological conditions and wind direction are not as vital as they are for an ammonia release, but it is necessary to know what equipment is in the fire location which could rupture or break, causing more danger to employees.  With this information the IC will make the evacuation decisions.  The designated assembly areas are the same for all emergencies at Vons.  
Following the Process Hazard Analysis Revalidation study, the following changes have been planned for the facility.  These mitigation measures will be implemented by the Main 
tenance Department by July 2000. 
1. Consider installing solenoid king valve for remote actuation or automatic actuation.  COMPLETED ON 6/9/99. 
2. Consider adding an ammonia sensor in the compressor room with audible alarm and alarm to the pager system to notify emergency personnel. 
3. Consider having this ammonia sensor close the solenoid king valve. 
4. Consider installing an ammonia detector in  the pump room to shut down discharge pump and close king valve. 
5. Consider installing ammonia sensors on the dock as well as other feasible cold storage areas (e.g. Frozen Foods Warehouse). 
6. Consider installing a removable check valve in the ammonia fill line since this line is also an oil drain leg. 
7. Consider installing a pump shut-off switch on north exit of pump room. 
7. As an alternative to 7, consider having the ammonia sensor shut off the liquid pumps in the event of an ammonia release. 
8. Properly brace the following evaporator and/or reheat coils to resist lateral seism 
ic forces:  the 12 evaporators and 4 reheat coils in the Frozen Foods Warehouse, the 16 evaporator coils in the Produce Warehouse, and the 8 evaporator coils in the Produce Warehouse - Berry Room. 
9. Properly brace the following piping to resist lateral seismic forces:  the piping in the engine room connected to the compressors, from the receiver to the +20 trap and -30 trap, from the engine room to the Frozen Food Warehouse, from the engine room to the Produce Warehouse, from the engine room to the Produce Receiving Room.
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